Pendle Labour Party - Archived items: 2010
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Last updated: Sunday 30 December, 2012

Tuesday 14 December 2010
Pendle Council amongst the hardest hit by local government axe
Yesterday’s announcement on local government cutbacks has hit Pendle even harder than expected and puts it in the twelve worst affected boroughs in the whole of England.

Leader of Pendle Labour Group, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, commented: “This is seriously bad news for Pendle people. The provisional settlement means cuts of 7.3% next year and a further 14.7% the year after, a cumulative reduction of just under 21%. The council’s budget planning – already involving a complete restructuring of departments, with an inevitable effect on jobs – had assumed the reduction in grant would be 16.4%.

“So even allowing for a transitional grant which was supposed to “smooth” the reductions, we are losing nearly 25% more than budgeted.

“Local Government Minister, Eric Pickles, has outdone even the Education Minister, Michael Gove, in the brutal way he is wielding the axe. According to his Department’s own figures Pendle is one of the twelve hardest hit boroughs in the country.

“Does our MP think that Pendle, with its serious areas of deprivation, should suffer more than the prosperous residents of his home county of Cheshire? Or will he just vote for this, like lobby fodder, as he did last week when higher education tuition fees were trebled?”

Monday 13 December 2010
Tony Martin (1954-2010)
Very sadly and suddenly, Tony Martin, a long-standing Labour Party member, died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday 8 December 2010 aged 56.  Tony was a Branch Treasurer for Brierfield and then became active in Colne when he moved there. 

Although Tony left school with no qualifications, he went on to better himself at Nelson and Colne College and eventually obtained an MA Law Degree having studied at Ruskin College Oxford and King’s College Aberdeen.   He was a Local Authority Governor at Primet High School.

In his youth Tony had been a keen athlete and travelled widely but for some years Tony had been suffering from a lung condition brought on by working in the Nelson cotton mills that are now “Junction 12” before proper health and safety legislation had been introduced. 
He was very active as a Trade Union Representative for Unison members, representing many people at Tribunals. Tony was also a Peace Campaigner and a member of Nelson Independent Labour Party’s Land Society.  He had been on several Tolpuddle Martyrs Demonstrations in Dorset, carrying the Nelson Clarion House banner.

After his father died in 1972 when Tony was 18, he looked after his mother until she died in 2000.  He leaves a sister and a brother for whom he was a very loving brother and he was a dearly loved uncle to his nieces and nephews.  He also leaves a distraught girlfriend in Zambia.  Tony was hoping that she would be granted UK Resident status so they could be married but there seemed to be never-ending delays at the visa/immigration office. 

In recent years he worked as a care assistant for the NHS.

Tony was a very good friend and comrade to many. May he rest in peace.

All are welcome to attend the funeral to be held at Burnley Crematorium on Thursday 16 December at 3.40pm.  Cortege leaves Helliwells in Colne at 3.10 pm.
Tuesday 07 December 2010
Councillor's fears for Marsden Centre users
Nelson South County Councillor, George Adam, is pressing County Hall leadership to come clean on social care cutbacks.

Cllr Adam said: "People who regularly use the Marsden Centre in Nelson have received letters telling them that 'following a review of their needs' they no longer fulfil the criteria for Social Services day care.

"I am worried this is a cynical ploy to cut back on the number of people using the Centre, with a view to closing it.

"I am following this through and pressing for a quick response."

Saturday 04 December 2010
Lib Dem posturing
Former Lib Dem General Election candidate, Afzal Anwar, looks to have been cribbing from a letter from a local student for his recent web page about tuition fees.

It is surely no coincidence that Anwar posted his pronouncement on the Pendle LibDem website on the morning a letter was published in the Nelson Leader from student Rob Hartley, making the same two points.

Hartley's letter: "When Andrew Stephenson spoke to Nelson & Colne College students during the General Election campaign, he said that the introduction of higher education tuition fees was what drove him into party politics."

Anwar Press Release: "Afzal Anwar would also like to highlight that Andrew Stephenson has previously claimed he came into party politics because of tuition fees".

Hartley's letter: "..will he vote against the Bill that will allow a tripling of fees to £9,000?"

Anwar Press Release: "I call on Stephenson to fight for the residents of Pendle and to not vote with his party."

Pendle Labour Party says this is second-hand posturing by Anwar, who avoids the real issue, which is the stance being taken by his own party. If he has joined the 130+ Lib Dem General Election candidates who signed a petition calling on their leaders to vote against any increase in tuition fees, why didn't he say so?

Thursday 02 December 2010
Labour fights against unacceptable 25% cuts
At Thursday’s (25th) Pendle Council Executive meeting the Labour Group scored a victory for the residents of Pendle by reducing the proposed cuts in grants to town and parish councils from 25% to 10%. Pendle Borough Council makes an annual grant to each town and parish council in Pendle to help meet the costs of local council services.

The current financial climate has meant that Westminster is likely to cut the central grant to Pendle, for 2011/12, by around 10%. This was being passed on to the towns and parishes as a 25% cut, by the Conservative led Pendle Council.

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, leader of the Labour Group on Pendle Council, argued that the series of proposed cuts to grants was grossly unfair, particularly when the local precepts set by town and parish councils look like they are going to be capped by central government.

Cllr Iqbal said “The local town and parish councils now cover the whole of Pendle and do cost effective job of providing services at the most local level where people appreciate it most. The impact of the Conservative proposed 25% cut would have been devastating to many of the smaller parishes which are operated on minimal funding as it is. The revised formulae proposed by Cllr Starkie where the total value of cuts would remain the same but the distribution of the cuts would vary based on population would mean that Roughlee and Barley would have a 4% cut in grant while Nelson would have a 41% cut and Colne a 33% cut and Barnoldswick a 26% cut. Where is the justice in that?

“The Labour Group argued that there was no justification for the town and parish councils to be hit with such a massive increase in cuts and we proposed the cut should be 10% across the board. At the executive meeting we were able to get our proposal through. We now have to take the proposal to the full council meeting on Thursday 9th December.”

Friday 26 November 2010
Explanation on Tuition Fees requested from MP
We have received a copy of a letter sent to the Nelson Leader/Colne Times/Barnoldswick and Earby Times series for publication. We believe that anyone considering entering into higher education will be interested in knowing how Andrew Stephenson answers the question and how he will vote on this issue.

When Andrew Stephenson spoke to Nelson & Colne College students during the General Election campaign he said that the introduction of higher education tuition fees was what drove him into party politics. Has he changed his mind on the issue? Or will he vote against the Bill that will allow a tripling of fees to £9,000?

As Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for youth should he not have joined the students at Westminster last week? His twitter page is strangely silent on the topic.

Could he explain to Pendle students like myself why I should pay far more to go to University than my counterparts in most of Western Europe (not to mention Scotland) and indeed could still be paying off my fees well after my own children are of University age?

Yours faithfully,
Rob Hartley

Will our Member of Parliament measure up to the views he expressed before the General Election?
Andrew Stephenson speaking to Nelson and Colne College students April 2010 (You Tube 4MB)

Wednesday 24 November 2010
Call by Labour Councillors for Southfield residents to join Action Group
Meeting tomorrow (Thursday 25 November) at Woodlands Road Baptist Church between 6 and 8 pm

A plea by Labour councilors in Southfield for more action by Pendle Council to deal with problems in their ward is starting to bring results.

Southfield Cllr Sheila Wicks said: “After we brought problems raised by residents to a meeting of Pendle’s Full Council, things are starting to move. Cllr Sheena Dunn and I have had a meeting with Council Leader, Mike Blomeley, Council Officers and the Nelson Neighbourhood Action Group to discuss what measures could be taken. One initiative is to try and establish a Residents Action Group and a meeting has been arranged to discuss this at Woodlands Road Baptist Church between 6 and 8 pm tomorrow. We want people to come along.”

“At the same time, the Nelson Neighbourhood Action Group is piloting a scheme to allow interested residents to become able to safely remove used needles from Southfield's streets at times when the Council's Operational Services staff are not available, such as weekends and bank holidays. If sufficient interest is shown then the scheme will be rolled out to other wards.”

A training day is to be held on Thursday 9th December at Nelson Town Hall from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm and Cllr Sheila Wicks is to undertake the training. Equipment will be provided by Pendle Council, including a Sharps box to contain the needles.

20th November 2010
Helping Hand through Government Cuts
At November’s meeting of the Barrowford Branch of the Labour Party members were worried about the impact of the proposed job losses and benefit cuts on the people of Barrowford. The branch is proposing to arrange an event in February, next year, to encourage people affected by the changes introduced in the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review to talk to experts in the fields of benefits and training & employment to help individuals through the difficult times. It is proposed that enterprise organisations as well as local employment experts will be on hand to answer questions and offer guidance.

Sue Nike, the chair of the Barrowford Branch, said “We feel very strongly that the impact of the CSR will affect many families and individuals who are not prepared for the changes that are going to hit them. We want to get a group of experts together in one room to help as many of the local people affected as possible.

“We discussed the possible impact of the CSR at our recent meeting and there was a strong feeling that we need to do something to help people through what are likely to be very difficult times.”

Bob Allen President of Pendle Labour Party added "throughout Pendle many people will be adversely affected by the Conservative/Liberal cuts. If this initiative in Barrowford is successful the Labour Party will aim to provide help in other Pendle neighbourhoods."

Saturday 20 November 2010
Friends of Barrowford Park meet with Pendle Parks Executive Leader
Naeem Ashraf, Pendle Council’s Executive member with responsibility for Parks and Leisure was delighted to see the enthusiasm of the Friends of Barrowford Park when he attended their monthly meeting last Monday (15th November).

The Group’s current project is to build a viewing platform with seating overlooking the waterfall and the new fish-pass. The group is working with the Environment Agency on an information board at the site.

Cllr Ashraf said “I am thrilled that the Friends are so enthusiastic about encouraging people to visit Barrowford Park and make full use of all its facilities. Not only is the waterfall an exciting view but it will be fantatstic to see salmon and sea trout climbing the fish pass to get to spawning areas above the village.

“At the meeting we discussed how the Friends Group and Pendle’s Park Service can work together to get the viewing platform established. The Pendle Park Service is also hoping to help with the Friends’ next project, providing picnic benches near the cemetery overlooking the wildlife area and the pond. This is a very popular area for families.”

Chair of the Friends Group, Sue Nike confirmed that “the visit from Naeem gave us the opportunity to ask him about the possible changes to the Park Service given the cut in government funding for Pendle Council and all the talk of job cuts and restrictions on funding. We are keen to get involved in ideas and helping with the work but we have no funds to buy materials. A close working arrangement between the Barrowford Friends Group and Pendle Parks is essential to keep improving the facilities in the park.”
Wednesday 17 November 2010
Welfare Rights closure fury
Nelson Councillors are furious at the news that the town’s Welfare Rights office on Carr Road is scheduled for closure as part of cost-cutting measures by Lancashire County Council.

Local trader and Labour Cllr Eileen Ansar said: “The Welfare Rights office is a lifeline for many of the most vulnerable people in Pendle. At a time when its services are going to be needed more than ever I just cannot understand why the County Council leadership can even think of closing it down.

Cll Ansar added: ”The excessive cuts imposed by the Tory government, who are only being kept in power by the Lib-Dems, are now to be compounded by a callous Conservative administration at County Hall. I want to know if our MP Andrew Stephenson supports this proposal and if not what he’s going to do about it. The poorest in our society should not be having to pay the price for the banking crisis. I urge all Councillors to protest at this and the other closures announced for Pendle.”

Friday 12 November 2010
Stephenson Publicity Stunt
Andrew Stephenson, Pendle's lacklustre MP, wasted the opportunity of a question at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday (10 November) in favour of a publicity stunt, according to Pendle Labour Group Leader, Cty Cllr Mohammed Iqbal.

Cllr Iqbal said: "Instead of asking about the issues he was elected on, like bringing A&E back to Burnley, Stephenson tried to put the blame on Lancashire's Chief Constable for the cuts to the Force's funding which have compelled him to take the drastic step of axing all Lancashire's Police Community Support Officers.

"Stephenson compared a saving of £120,000 in the salaries of senior officers at Pendle Council with Lancashire Police Force's £50 million cut over the next four years following the Comprehensive Spending Review. This was a nonsense and unworthy of a serious MP. It is Stephenson's friend, the Chancellor George Osborne, who needs to reverse these totally excessive cuts and allow us to keep PCSO's on the streets of Pendle."

ref: Q5. [22888] Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): The Deputy Prime Minister might be aware that, in response to the comprehensive spending review, the three most senior officers of Pendle borough council have announced a wage cut of 27%. In contrast, the chief constable of Lancashire police, Steve Finnigan, has started a 90-day consultation on making all Lancashire's police community support officers redundant. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the chief constable should think again and that he should support our PCSOs- [ Interruption . ]

Tuesday 09 November 2010
Jim Skinner receives Labour Party Merit Award
Each year merit awards are made to members who have given outstanding service to the party.

In Pendle we are very proud to announce that Jim Skinner from Barnoldswick has received a merit award.

Jim has been involved in politics from a very early age and joined the Labour Party soon after the end of WWII and was also very active within the union movement.

Here in Pendle he has been a very active member for many years in campaigning, developing policy and serving as an officer of the Local Party. We salute his dedication and enduring commitment to strong Labour values.

Tuesday 09 November 2010
Andrew Stephenson MP and tuition fees
Gordon Prentice the former Labour MP for Pendle offers new boy Andrew Stephenson some sound advice on preserving his credibility with Pendle's young people and their parents. More>>

We believe that the debate on tuition fees will be a key test of Andrew Stephenson's self declared principals.

Andrew Stephenson is drawn no 5 at Prime Minister's Questions tomorrow, since the NUS demonstration coincides, it would be a great opportunity for our MP to put his views concerning tuition fees on the (wider) record!

Monday 08 November 2010
Pendle CLP endorses Ed Miliband as new Labour Leader
At a recent General Committee meeting Pendle Labour Party branch delegates wholeheartedly endorsed the democratic election of Ed Miliband as the new Labour Leader. Pendle Labour Party has sent congratulations and best wishes to him.

Ed Miliband has said: “Under my leadership, Labour will reward people who work hard and I’ll campaign for a Living Wage for all. We will offer an alternative to tuition fees and boost affordable housing. We will follow a sensible plan to reduce the deficit. But we will oppose short-sighted cuts which would threaten jobs and the industries of the future which the North West has worked so hard to attract.”

Ed's Message to the people in the North West
Ed Miliband’s letter to North West constituents has been praised by the Pendle Labour Party. The letter addressed to constituents across the North West is contained in the latest Labour Party newspaper ‘The Informer’, currently being delivered across Pendle.

Ed Miliband writes: “At the recent Labour Party Conference in Manchester a new generation stepped forward to lead the Labour party and in time, serve our nation.
Under my leadership, Labour will reward people who work hard and I’ll campaign for a Living Wage for all. We will offer an alternative to tuition fees and boost affordable housing.
We will follow a sensible plan to reduce the deficit. But we will oppose short-sighted cuts which would threaten jobs and the industries of the future which the North West has worked so hard to attract.
The decision to cut £52 million from the National Regional Development Agency and then scrap the body will damage investment in high-tech innovative firms.
More than 100 schools in the North West have already been hit by the scrapping of school rebuilding projects.
That’s a dangerous approach for our economy, hurting people who had no hand in the global economic crises. Under my leadership Labour will once again be radical and reforming.”
Pendle Labour party chair, Bob Allen, said ‘this newspaper, currently being delivered across Pendle, is a great read and demonstrates the fighting spirit that has made the Labour Party great.’

Sunday 07 November 2010
The real 'Westminster Report'
Andrew Stephenson was elected to be MP for Pendle exactly six months ago. This is his record so far.
• The new Colne Health Centre has been cancelled
• The pledge to return A&E to Burnley has not been honoured
• Nor has the promise that the transfer of the Burnley Children’s Ward to Blackburn would be stopped.
• NHS Direct is being scrapped
• Child Trust Funds have been abolished
• Police Community Support Officers in Lancashire are facing redundancy
• 4 Schools Rebuilding Projects in Pendle have been cancelled
• The Education Maintenance Allowance for 16-18 year olds has been scrapped
• University students face massive increases in fees
• Cuts have been announced that are likely to lead to 6,000 job losses across Lancashire
• Up to 90 jobs could be lost at Pendle Council
• Housing Regeneration funding in Pendle is finishing in March, hitting thousands of construction jobs
• Pendle has been declared one of the local authorities most vulnerable to the worst consequences of cuts
• Lancashire and East Lancashire have had applications for Local Enterprise Partnerships rejected.
• VAT will be increased by 2.5%
• Benefits will be frozen and, in the case of Child Benefit, removed for some earners.

Where the above items have been the subject of legislation in Parliament, Stephenson has voted for them without exception.

Meanwhile according to his Westminster Report and twitterings Stephenson has amongst other things:

• asked a plethora of uncontroversial parliamentary questions (we don’t know what he does with the answers)
• welcomed the Chief of Kailahun district of Sierra Leone to Pendle
• had a flu jab as part of Westminster Flu Day
• been chatting to James Cann (of Dragons Den fame) over dinner
• had an ITV camera crew at his home in Colne for an interview
• attended the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce President's Awards Ball at Ewood Park
• been to the gym many times
• been to the Moorcock Inn in Blacko for a fundraiser with Andrew Percy MP
• enjoyed the last day of the Blues in Colne
• enjoyed the Barrowford Show
• been to the Colne and Nelson Rugby Club Sportsmans Dinner
• enjoyed an excellent meal at Mario's in Barnoldswick
• been very proud of his trimmed hedge
• been bruised after allowing 38 of his constituents to shoot at him with paintballs
• enjoyed Trawden Show
• watched Shrek 3 in 3D at the cinema
• got a jar of Blackberry jam sent free from Blackberry
• Met 'Wallace and Gromit'
• Wore a loud tie to Prime Ministers Questions.

We wonder if he will have any real impact on improving the lives of people in Pendle. The track record so far is that of a political lightweight who twitters whilst Pendle declines.

We say to all those who voted Conservative and Lib-Dem six months ago: did you know you were voting for this?
Thursday 28th October 2010
Treat for Gordon Prentice
A supporter of Gordon Prentice, the Labour Member of Parliament for Pendle for 18 years, has donated an oak sapling to the Clarion Club as a ‘thank you’ for his efforts working for the people of Pendle.

Jenny Spiers, from Barrowford, has grown the oak sapling from an acorn over the past 6 years.

Jenny said “the oak tree was becoming root-bound in the pot that I have kept by my front door all these years. I have decided that it is time the tree went to a ‘better home’ where it can thrive.

“I have always been a great fan of Gordon Prentice’s, he has helped me and my family sort out all kinds of problems over the years. So, I decided to donate the tree so that people will remember what a first-rate MP he was. I contacted Sue Nike of the Clarion Club in Newchurch and she was delighted to find a spot in the Clarion grounds to re-plant the oak.”

Gordon said “This is a very touching gesture from Jenny and I like the symbolism of acorns and mighty oak trees being planted in the home of the Independent Labour Party, one of the fore-runners of the present Labour Party. The ILP was a thriving socialist and co-operative venture back in 1912 when the Clarion was built.”

The photograph shows Jenny’s grand-daughter Jessica, Jenny, Sue Nike and Gordon Prentice planting the sapling in the grounds of the Clarion Club on Thursday 28th Oct.

Thursday 28 October 2010
Coalition Government giving op on growth in Lancashire
Tory controlled Lancashire County Council's bid to become a Local Enterprise Partnership was rejected today (28 October 2010) by the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable, along with a similar bid for East Lancashire and one for Wyre, Fylde and Blackpool; thus depriving Lancashire of a share in the new £1.4bn regional growth fund.

The Government’s actions so far show they have no strategy for regional growth or jobs:
  • Money for regional growth has been cut from £1.4bn a year to £1.4bn over three years - a 2/3rds cut.
  • Great chunks of England are set to have no Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). This leaves black holes for growth in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the country.
  • LEPs will receive no central funding - putting most deprived areas at huge disadvantage in bidding for money for growth
  • Local authorities will have to meet the set up costs of Local Enterprise Partnerships while they face 28% cuts in funding; Regional Development Agencies are being shut with a redundancy cost of £0.5bn
  • 18 months of chaotic shambles with Local Enterprise Partnerships not operating at the time they’re needed to cope with the huge economic dislocation across England. Tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of business going in both public and private sector.
  • All decisions intended to be taken in Whitehall, none in the regions and with no business input
  • The private sector alarmed and frustrated about lack of focus Local Enterprise Partnerships, made worse by infighting between Government Ministers in Business, Innovation and Skills and Communities and
    Local Government - the risk of ending up with Local Enterprise Partnerships at best fledging and at worst toothless.
  • £1.4billion of public money being wasted by the cost of winding up the RDAs

Monday 25 October 2010
Call for progress on Brierfield Service Station
Labour councillors on Brierfield and Reedley Area Committee are calling for action to be taken on the disused service station on Colne Road, Brierfield.

Local Councillor Nawaz Ahmed said: “Pendle View Filling Station used to be a thriving business. But since it closed it has apparently been abandoned by its owners and has become a location for young people to gather and for possible drug dealing, as well as for cars to be left.

“As it stands it is an eyesore and I want to see if we can do something about it. I imagine it’s unlikely that it will open up again as a service station, given that there are two filling stations not far down the road in Nelson. But if it can’t be kept in business use it could be a good location for a small scale residential development.

“I have tabled the issue for discussion at the next Area Committee meeting and hope that we can make some progress.”

Monday 25 October 2010
Pendle Labour’s graduate jobs scheme is first class
Pendle Council’s innovative scheme to encourage local graduates to work in local firms is a runaway success, with most of the available places taken up only six months after it was launched.

Pendle Labour Group put forward the idea to the Council’s Economic Taskforce and supported funding for the scheme in budget discussions earlier in the year. Labour Cllr Nadeem Younis commented: “So often young people from Pendle don’t come back to work here after they’ve graduated. Most job opportunities are in Manchester, Liverpool or Preston. But there are a lot of engineering companies and small media firms in Pendle who can give recent graduates an excellent training and opportunities to progress. This scheme gives Pendle employers the opportunity to recruit local graduates into their businesses for six to twelve months.

“As a law graduate myself who has chosen to stay and work in Nelson, I was pleased to support this proposal when it came up at budget discussions. And I’m delighted to hear that it’s making great progress. We need to offer it again next year if at all possible.”

Friday 08 October 2010
New MP Must Take Action on Schools, Say Pendle Labour Councillors
Pendle Labour Councillors have forced Conservative and Lib-Dem groups on the Council to join with them in a call to the Borough’s new MP to fight the cuts to schools in Colne and Barnoldswick.
A motion proposed by Labour group Leader Mohammed Iqbal had called the coalition government’s decision to cut the Building Schools for the Future funding a “betrayal of the students, parents and staff” of Fisher More, Primet and Park High Schools in Colne, and West Craven Technology College in Barnoldswick.

Cllr Iqbal said: “The Lib-Dems couldn’t wriggle out of this one, so they put up an amendment which was similar to our motion, but not as forceful. It also tried to imply that BSF had not been administered through Lancashire County Council and that there had not been close consultation with the schools concerned. And it beggars belief that Tony Greaves could call the BSF programme inefficient when it was the Lib-Dem administration on Pendle Council that caused delays to building at Marsden Heights. These delays had a knock-on effect to later phases of the programme planned for other parts of Pendle.

“The Council is now calling on Pendle’s Member of Parliament to seek an early meeting for representatives of both the Council and the four schools with the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove. I hope he can persuade him to see us. Nottingham City Council is taking legal action against the cuts, having received no response to requests to meet Mr Gove, and is being joined in that action by Waltham Forest , Luton and Sandwell Councils.

“We cannot allow the Con-Dem government to deprive our schoolchildren of the facilities they need.”

Friday 08 October 2010
£2.6m Lancashire schools funding blunder
Schools in Lancashire shared £2.6million in extra funding after an administrative blunder, it has been revealed.

Teachers warned county council bosses against trying to claw the cash back once the mistake was realised.

And the county, which is facing budget reductions of up to 40 per cent in Government cuts, is set to use its £4.4million reserves to cover the total.

Labour County Councillor Mohammed Iqbal said “Quite clearly it was a major mistake which has cost taxpayers and the county more than £2million pounds. Someone should pay for it. Quite clearly it is a lot of money. The political leadership should take responsibility.”

Tuesday 05 October 2010
Pendle Labour Leader calls for Burnley Urgent Care Centre Timetable
Pendle Labour Party is calling on the Chief Executive of East Lancashire Hospitals Trust to say when the recommendations from the recent review of Burnley General Hospitals’ Urgent Care department will be carried out.

Bob Allen, Pendle Labour Party Chair, said: “Following years of campaigning, and calling on clinicians to speak up about the removal of the Accident & Emergency Service to Blackburn, Gordon Prentice was successful in forcing the Health Minister to set up a review of Burnley’s Urgent Care Centre last year.

“Professor Matthew Cooke and Dr Irving Cobden, two of the foremost experts in Emergency Care in the country, made 23 recommendations in their report this summer, and I understand that they have all been accepted by the Trust.

“Amongst them is the need for consistency across the North West in the naming of care facilities – so that people can know what exactly an Urgent Care Centre means - as well as a proposal that the Ambulance Service and Acute Trust should develop systems to increase the number of cases transported to Burnley.

“These are the sort of changes that will make a real difference to Burnley and Pendle people, and I have written to the Chief Executive, Diane Whittingham, asking what the timetable is for carrying them forward.

“I note that the new MPs for Pendle and Burnley, who owe their positions very largely to campaigns promising to bring A&E back to Burnley, have been unable to make good on that undertaking.

“Andrew Stephenson didn’t even speak in the recent debate in Westminster Hall on A&E, and his promise that Andrew Lansley would stop the Burnley children’s ward moving to Blackburn also seems to have come to nothing.”

Sunday 03 October 2010
Pendle ConDems vote to support Vat increase.
Pendle Lib-Dems voted at last week’s Council meeting to support the Government’s proposed VAT increase to 20%, in flagrant breach of their General Election promise that a VAT increase was not part of their economic policy.

Pendle Labour Group Leader Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said: "At the meeting Councillors had the unedifying sight of Lord Greaves and his group wriggling and squirming as they tried to justify backing down on this key aspect of their party's economic policy.”

“On the Tory side, Cllr Linda Crossley pretty well admitted that her speech supporting the VAT increase came straight from Conservative Party Central Office, trotting out the usual line that the world economic crash was all the fault of the Labour government. Hardly surprising, as MP Andrew Stephenson, running scared that his local council might vote against Con-Dem policy, had written to all Tory and Lib-Dem councillors telling them what to say.”

Labour Cllr AsjadMahmood, who had proposed that Pendle Council should write to the Chancellor about the impact of the proposed increase on vulnerable people in Pendle, said, “The Institute of Fiscal Studies has stated that the VAT increase was not ‘unavoidable’ as the Chancellor maintains.”

“The increase will fall hardest on those Pendle people least able to afford it. And it makes a nonsense of the Government’s Coalition agreement that it would ensure that those most in need are protected.”

Sunday 26 September 2010
Pendle Labour Party congratulates Ed Miliband on his election to the Leadership of the Labour Party
Pendle Labour Party nominated David Miliband for Leader. We congratulate David, Dianne, Ed Balls and Andy on the campaigns they have run and we are sure that they will all go on to make a valued contribution to the next Labour Government.

Pendle Labour Party will now give 100% support to Ed Miliband the democratically elected Leader of the Labour Party and we wish him well as the new Leader of the Opposition and future Prime Minister.

Tuesday 21 September 2010
Are you registered to vote?
Pendle Council is sending out reminders to the 18,000 households in Pendle who have not returned their voter registration forms. Currently only about one half of people of voting age in Pendle, are registered to vote. The rest are denied having a say in any elections that take place next year.

The Coalition Government's proposed benefits cuts mean that the next 5 years are going to be difficult for all of us and especially people working in public sector jobs, pensioners and single parents.

The local elections in 2010 will be your first opportunity to tell both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats if you agree or disagree with the severity of the cuts that they are imposing on you and your family members (you may think that the Bankers who caused the problem should be shouldering the burden instead).

To ensure that you can make your vote count on both local and national issues; we urge you to take a few minutes and ensure that every entitled person in your household is registered to vote.

If you have recently moved into Pendle or moved homes within Pendle you will need to register to vote at your new address.

For further information, or if you need help with the form, contact the Elections Office at Pendle Borough Council on (01282) 661919

Friday 10 September 2010
Spending cuts 'to hit north harder - extracted from BBC web site
BBC-commissioned research suggests that parts of northern England could be more vulnerable to cutbacks than the south of the country.

BBC News website readers have been explaining what life is like in their area.

Richard Smith, Nelson, Lancashire

I work for a holiday firm which has actually done very well during the recession due to stay at home vacations, however we are predicting a very rocky year ahead because of the budget cuts.

The area has been hit by the recent closure of a large call centre in the neighbouring town of Burnley, and a lot of firms in my borough of Pendle have gone into receivership.

My mum is a school cook and she's worried about the affects the cuts will have on her.

In the north west of England, Manchester and Liverpool are totally different from Lancashire. They seem to have better skilled employment than where I'm from, and also companies such as digital ones prefer to open an office in Manchester or Liverpool than in rural areas such as East Lancashire.

High street retail shopping has been affected badly in Burnley - a lot of shops closed when the recession kicked in.

In Nelson, the supermarkets destroyed the town centre years ago, but they are trying to revitalise the town centre. The only problem is we don't have any shops apart from a Wilkinson's.

I am very worried about how the public sector is going to be hit by cuts - it all has a knock-on effect. Some workers will not be earning anymore so will be spending less, which will have an impact on holiday bookings on which my firm depends.

Tuesday 07 September 2010
Hundreds have already signed Labour’s petition to save investment in Colne and Barnoldswick schools.
Download your copy of our Education Special Labour Rose (PDF-457KB)
Tuesday 31 August 2010
New members sign up
Since the General Election membership of Pendle Labour Party has increased by over 100.

We are encouraged that many of the new members are young people.

This local increase in membership reflects the national increase of 25,000 new and rejoining members.

Anyone joining before 08 September 2010 will qualify to vote in the election for the Labour Party Leader.

Monday 30 August 2010
Help save NHS Direct
Labour Councillors are urging Pendle residents to sign an online petition and force The Conservative/Lib Dem government to withdraw their proposal to scrap NHS Direct. Labour Leader, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said “Since its introduction in 2,000, millions of people across the country have used NHS Direct; however, unfortunately this government seems hell-bent on destroying anything introduced by the last Labour government.

What is also really disappointing is that our MP, Andrew Stephenson and his new friend, Lord Tony Greaves are quiet on this issue which will affect Pendle people. They appear to be happy to go along and do as their masters say. I would urge people to sign the petition at and the Prime Minister is on record as saying that if 100,000 people sign a petition, he will reconsider any proposal”

Wednesday 25 August 2010
Liberal Democrats making the poor pay
Today the Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS) has concluded that the Budget will hit the poorest families hardest.

The IFS has found that jobless couples with children will suffer most losing about 8.5% of their income over four years.

It’s further evidence that Liberal Democrat policies are making the poor in the North West pay…

The Budget offered no help, no chance and no hope for the poorest and most vulnerable in the North West.

Increasing VAT to 20% will hit the poorest the hardest: Cameron's said it ‘hits the poorest hardest’ and Clegg and the Lib Dems described it during the General Election as the ‘The Tory secret VAT bombshell’. Now they are the ones helping to light the fuse.

Young people and families will suffer the most with child benefits already frozen for three years, the health in pregnancy grant abolished and cuts made to the Sure Start maternity grant.

Don’t forget the ConDems have already cut the Child Trust Fund, ended free swimming, cut back on free school meals and taken away tax credits from families on less than £30,000.

Liverpool Lib Dem leader Warren Bradley said cutting the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project was ‘unforgivable’ and admitted it made him feel ‘physically sick’. The ConDems have scrapped 4 BSF projects in Colne and Barnoldswick alone.

They've also scrapped the Future Jobs Fund; putting the axe to a future 12,000 opportunities for young people in the North West making the region the hardest hit in the country.

Now a senior Lib Dem Liverpool councillor has joined Labour in protest at ConDem cuts. Cllr Ian Jobling says he can no longer belong to a party of ‘double standards and hypocrisy’.

It’s clear that the price of 22 Lib Dems jobs in a Tory Government is that thousands of North West people will have to lose theirs.

In the words of Lib Dem Burnley Council leader Charlie Briggs: “The cuts announced by the government are hitting deprived areas like Burnley much harder than more affluent areas.”

Friday 20 August 2010
The Condems Spending Cuts Programme - targeting areas in the North West with the greatest need
Benefits review is a shocking betrayal of North West families and pensioners
  • Older people could have to wait at least six years longer to receive winter fuel payments, under ConDem plans to cut welfare benefits.
  • And Liberal Democrat ministers, led by Nick Clegg, are pushing for the qualifying age to go even higher.
  • Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper said: "Winter Fuel Payments help many pensioners across the country. David Cameron has promised time and again that the Tories would protect them. This is a shocking betrayal of pensioners."
  • So much for Cameron's general election pledge that the payments - along with free eye tests and bus passes for older people - would stay in place.
  • And not content with all this, Nick Clegg is refusing to rule out further cuts for hard hit families by scrapping universal child benefit.

Sunday 15 August 2010
Pendle Labour campaigns to save our schools whilst Andrew Stephenson 'chickens out' of facing anti-cuts protest.
Pendle Labour Party continued the fightback last weekend against the Tory and Lib Dem cuts to the Building Schools for the Future programme in Pendle. Party members joined Labour Borough and County Councillors and other demonstrators in a rally outside Colne Library against the plans to scrap the programme.

The demonstration had been timed to coincide with the scheduled Saturday surgery at Colne Library of the new Conservative MP for Pendle, Andrew Stephenson, at 10.00am. However Mr Stephenson failed to materialise at the front of the library and it was reported he had gone elsewhere.

Pendle Labour Party vice-chair Robert Oliver said “Before the election Mr Stephenson was saying that BSF funding for Pendle schools was safe. So he should be banging the drum to ensure that Colne and Barnoldswick pupils get the facilities they were promised. He can’t just hide behind the delaying tactic of yet another review.”

Colne Labour Party members Tim Ormerod and Alan Sheraton who want to see the Pendle schools built were interviewed on Graham Liver's Breakfast Show on Radio Lancashire on Friday 13 August.  To listen to their comments follow this hyperlink Graham Liver's Breakfast show and go to 2.48.50 on the timeline.

Stephenson Twitter's:

  • had a four hour supermarket surgery yesterday at ASDA in Colne, have Surgeries in Nelson, Colne and Barnoldswick next Saturday 1:52 PM Aug 1st via Twitter for BlackBerry® in reply to BenHews.
  • "has some busy advice surgeries tomorrow morning....14 people booked in with appointments, followed by 3 home visits 10:43 AM Aug 6th via web"
  • "Labour have organised a protest against cuts outside my surgery at Colne Library. Such a shame I don't have a surgery in Colne today. 2:26 AM Aug 7th via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Friday 13 August 2010
The ConDems Spending Cuts Programme - targeting areas in the North West with the greatest need
Thousands of North West families will be hit by housing benefit cuts
  • Shocking figures show that tens of thousands of North West families will be badly hit by the Government's plans on housing benefit.
  • Crisis, the charity for single homeless people, is warning that the ConDems £1.8bn of housing benefit cuts could lead to worsening debt problems and homelessness.
  • According to an impact assessment by the Department of Work and Pensions, the North West will be the hardest hit region outside London.
  • Virtually all of the 131,180 households in the region reliant on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will be affected. Claimants will see their LHA cut by an average of £10 per week or £520 per year.
  • People living in one bed properties will be especially badly affected – for example support will be cut by £780 in St Helens.

    Source: The Guardian, 10 August

Monday 09 August 2010
Conservative and Liberal Democrat Vat Bombshell
In early April, two days after Gordon Brown had gone to the palace and announced an election, Nick Clegg unveiled a General Election campaign poster. It was the day the Liberal Democrats chose to unveil their poster warning of VAT rises under a Conservative government. Fast-forward to today and Clegg is Deputy Prime Minister in a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition that has announced a rise in VAT to 20%.

During the unveiling of the poster, Nick Clegg said “We will not have to raise VAT to deliver our promises...Let me repeat that: Our plans do not require a rise in VAT.”

Cllr Asjad Mahmood says “Nick Clegg and Vince Cable warned of a Tory VAT bombshell in the general election but are now helping to deliver it. The increase in VAT from 17.5% to 20% announced in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government’s June Budget will fall hardest on those least able to afford it. The increase in VAT will lead to higher prices for goods and services; will have a disproportionate impact on pensioners and other low income groups who have not had a compensatory increase in other benefits and allowances; and will have a severe impact on businesses, charities and community groups in Pendle”.

“The way the VAT increase will affect pensioners and other low income groups runs counter to the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Government's Coalition Agreement statement on 20 May 2010 that it would ‘ensure that fairness is at the heart of those decisions so that all those most in need are protected’.”

“It will cost UK households an average of £500 each, every year and we will see a greater contraction in consumer confidence, as already stretched households face the threat of unemployment from large and unspecified public and private sector cuts, rising prices from VAT increases, and real-terms benefit cuts."

“There are concerns, that the new higher rate of VAT could also stoke inflation, cause cash flow problems which could push some businesses into insolvency and trigger higher interest rates, increasing the danger of the economy lurching back into recession”.

“Cllr Asjad Mahmood is calling on the Member of Parliament representing Pendle to stand up for Pendle’s pensioners, businesses and wider community, to voice their opposition to this unfair increase in VAT and to vote against it in Parliament”.

Cllr Asjad Mahmood has also put a motion to the Full Council at its next meeting, calling the council to write directly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer raising concerns about the impact of the proposed VAT increase on pensioners, other vulnerable groups and businesses in Pendle.
Saturday 31 July 2010
ConDem benefit attack on welfare state hits those in the North -
Jobless people in the North could get lower benefits than those in the South as part of a new ConDem assault on the welfare state.

Work Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is considering "localised" payments as he looks to slash the benefits bill with reforms that will leave millions worse off.
Read more

The question for us in Pendle is - will Andrew Stephenson toe the Party Line and support this reform or will he support his Pendle constituents who are facing job losses as a result of proposed swinging Tory/Liberal Democrat spending cuts?

Perhaps Andrew could let us know in his next missive? He should also clarify his position regarding the A&E Department and Children's Ward at Burnley General Hospital. We would also like to know his views on the cancelled Pendle schools projects.

Thursday 29 July 2010
Prime Minister fails to sympathise with air crash victims
Pendle CLP notes with concern the failure of the Tory Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, to voice any condolences for the victims of the Pakistan air crash disaster.

US President Barack Obama offered his "deepest condolences" to the families of the 152 people who were killed in a Pakistani airline crash on Wednesday. An Air Blue flight went down in poor weather about 20 km from Islamabad, killing everyone on board - including two Americans. "I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of all who died in Wednesday's tragic crash of Air Blue flight ED202 near Islamabad," Obama said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those touched by this horrible accident," he added. "The American people stand with the people of Pakistan in this moment of tragedy."

Mr Cameron says he puts great importance on UK-Pakistan relations. Pendle CLP are disturbed that Mr Cameron did not see fit to give his condolences to the Pakistani people in the aftermath of such a sad disaster.

Tuesday 27 July 2010
Press Release - £52m slashed from NWDA budget - true cost to the region revealed as more than 100 projects lose out
From North West Labour
Simon Greenhalgh
Regional Communications Officer

The Northwest Regional Development agency has confirmed more than 100 projects will lose out after the ConDem Government cut £52m from its budget. The announcement is a massive blow to regeneration plans across the region.

The £220m Talbot Gateway plan in Blackpool, the Skelmersdale College Campus Renewal, Chester Zoo’s £225m Natural Vision project, the new £28m Everyman theatre in Liverpool and the International Festival in Manchester are just some of the projects that were expecting to secure funding support and will now miss out.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg admitted some RDAs ‘do a good job’ when he was challenged by North West MP Gordon Marsden during Deputy PMQs in the House of Commons today (Tuesday, July 27).

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, Labour’s shadow communities and local government spokesman, said:

“The Deputy Prime Minister talks a good talk about devolution and localism but that’s about all he does because he and the business secretary acquiesced in the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies.

“Will he actually now give an undertaking to the House that he will intervene with his colleagues in government to make sure that the new regional growth fund decisions have a proper input from elected councils and local authorities?”

£270m has immediately been taken from regional development agencies across the country; the £52m cuts to the NWDA makes it one of the hardest hit.

Earlier this summer the ConDems budget set out plans to scrap the NWDA. The Agency will not be able to make any new investments or renew partner contracts before its dissolution in April 2012.

The North West projects that have approached NWDA for possible funding but will not receive anything:

The NWDA says this is not an exhaustive list but includes the majority of projects that had secured at least concept stage and were likely to request agency funding within the next 18 months....

Media Sector Development Plan - Audio Visual Skills 2001/12
Manchester Metropolitan University - Birley Fields Education & Health Campus
All Souls Church Restoration, Bolton
Preston Guild 2012
English Half Marathon
World Series Netball
Manchester International Festival
Midpoint 18 Employment Site Development, Middlewich
Parklands Plot 5B, Middlebrook,Bolton
Talbot Gateway, Blackpool
Burnley Bridge Business Park
The Corridor Manchester Public Realm
The Dispensary, New Islington, Manchester
The Manchester Sq, Waterloo and St Chads Headlands, Blackpool
Kingston House, Liverpool - Planning Fees
Leyland Trucks Training Programme
Chester Zoo Natural Vision
Crewe Rail Gateway - Main Project
Ancoats Estate Management Company
Crewe Green/Basford Link Road - Main Project
Preston Vision: Winckley Square Public Realm
Whitefield Economic Development Programme
CBC Aintree
Getrag Training Project, Halewood
MakeMedia Centre
Manchester Ship Canal Aeration (Salford Quays)
Trafford Park Masterplan
Parsonage Colliery Phase 1
Royal Eye Hospital, Manchester - Enabling Works
Next Generation Access Broadband Manchester
Citadel - Court Square,Carlise
Roman Maryport
Lancaster Science Park
Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, Liverpool
Liverpool Science Park Innovation Centre 3
National Football Museum , URBIS
Blackburn TC Knowledge Zone - Cathedral Quarter
Sportscity Major Destination Site
West Float Land Remediation - Wirral
Trafford Wharf land remediation
Preston Vision: Flag Market Public Realm
Riverside Park 2b - Wirral
The Liverpool Institute of Vaccine Research (LIVR)
Regional Aero Park - Samlesbury - Phase II
BAE Submarine Solutions Training Programme
Blackpool - Central Corridor Phase III
Horwich Loco Works (remediation)
Church Wharf, Bolton
Manchester - Burnley - Accrington direct rail link
Carlisle Historic Core Public Realm
Process Innogateway 2
Town Wharf, Middlewich
Crewe Vision Partnership contribution to costs
Frodsham Gateway
Faithful Enterprise
Cibitas - Chester review
Lake District National Park Authority - Employment Sites Programme
Lake District Electric Vehicle demonstration
Environmental Technologies Business Park
Solid State Lighting Demonstration
St Annes public realm - Open Golf 2012
Gen-Probe UK Consolidation at Wythenshawe
Aviation Power Up
Climate Change Action Plan Northwest Climate Fund Phase 2
Jaguar Land Rover Training Project
Leyland Trucks Hybrid Demonstration
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Arts Project
Manchester is my Planet Phase 3
Incubation National Nuclear Lab
NW Autonomous Systems Programme - Innovation
Centre of Excellence for low carbon vehicles technologies
Mersey Tidal Test Centre
Preston Vision: Innovation Trail
Royal Institute for British Architects Second National HQ
Rossendale Vocational Training Centre
Rawtenstall Town Centre Public Realm
Haslingden Public Realm
Skelmersdale College Campus Renewal
Co-op Office Development Skemersdale
Stobart Air
Thomas Storey Stockport
Stalybridge West
Trinity Mirror Transformation Project
Wirral HE Campus
University of Chester - County Hall refurbishment
Chester University Food Research & Development
Cumbria Higher Learning
Sands Centre, Carlisle
Centre for Genomics Research
NW Clinical Fellowships Industry Programme
Strategic Affordable Manufacturing in the UK Leading Environmental Technology
Smart Grid Centre of Excellence
Nuclear Fuel Applied Research Centre
Warrington Bank Quay Station Business Lounge & Subway
Nuclear Low Carbon Economic Area
Wigan On Side Centre, Mesnes Park
Turnpike Centre, Leigh
Fleetwood Fish Park
Centre for Exploitation of Energy Research
City Centre North - the Co-operative Quarter
NW Autonomous Systems Programme - Regional Sectors Project

Friday 23 July 2010
Action needed from Andrew Stephenson, not just words!
We have just read Andrew Stephenson’s Westminster Report. It contains some nice photographs, but nothing about what he his personally going to do to improve our lot in Pendle.

Of course we have his maiden speech and Mr Stephenson was quite right to use this to highlight manufacturing and endorse his party’s declared policy on rebalancing the economy (presumably to manufacturing).

How ironic that his government should cancel the loan to ‘Sheffield Forgemasters’, who have since announced that they have had to suspend seeking backing from the private sector. This may have serious consequences on the UK’s efforts to bridge the ‘Energy Gap’.

We would like to see Mr Stephenson urgently focussing his parliamentary attention to bolstering the A&E Department at Burnley General Hospital and retaining the Children’s Ward. These were major campaigning issues for Mr Stephenson prior to the election.

On a previous visit to the area (before the General Election) his friend the new Secretary of State for Health, sent out a very positive message on returning the A&E Department to Burnley. If they work together they should be able to find a way of turning their words into deeds.

Mr Stephenson should also address other local concerns by using his time to ensure that the four cancelled school building projects in Pendle are rejuvenated (Mr Stephenson gave very positive assurances that these school projects would go ahead during his election campaign, it is time for him to deliver).

There is more to being an MP than blaming the previous government and having your photograph taken!

Competition for government funding of projects is certain to be intense.

So come on Andrew, there is no time to waste, get your finger out and show us what you are made of!

Friday 16 July 2010
David Miliband receives the endorsement of Pendle Labour Party Members
A meeting of Pendle Labour Party members held on Friday 16 July voted to provide their supporting nomination to David Miliband in his quest to become the new leader of the Labour Party.

Phil Woolas a former Nelson & Colne college student and MP for Oldham and Saddleworth East, spoke enthusiastically about David Miliband's leadership skills.

additional speakers articulated the strengths of the other candidates.

The meeting enjoyed a thorough discussion before voting on the outcome.

All Labour Party members including new members who join the Party before 08 September, will each have an individual vote in the election process.

Monday 12 July 2010
Pendle peer 'appalled' at news from Government - Lancashire Telegraph
A senior Liberal Democrat peer has said he is ‘appalled’ at the stream of bad news coming out of the coalition government.

Pendle-based Lord Tony Greaves is the first major Lib Dem politician to break ranks with his party because of the policies being introduced by the Conservative/Lib Dem Government.

He is particulularly unhappy at education and health policies and cuts to local services.

Lord Greaves, who lives in Winewall, near Colne, has written a weekly column in the Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale edition of the Lancashire Telegraph for more than six years.

However, he announced yesterday that he felt unable to continue the role, fearing the column would only develop into a vehicle for his rants against the political party he has represented for the past 40 years. Read More
Wednesday 07 July 2010
School Academies
Lancashire County Council Labour Group are deeply concerned about the Coalition Governments proposals for the creation of new Academy schools. In total 34 Lancashire schools have expressed an interest in the proposals and the County Labour group, in partnership with District Council colleagues, intend on raising awareness about how unclear and harmful the legislation could be for the future of education in Lancashire.

The previous Labour Government's aim was to create Academies that would improve failing schools and the educational attainments in deprived areas. The Coalition Government's focus is entirely at odds with this aim and places its priorities on schools graded by Ofsted as 'outstanding'.

The Labour Group would advise that schools, parents, governors and young people give the idea much thought before they embark on Academy status. Schools receive support from the County Council to ensure that the children of Lancashire receive the best possible education on an equal basis. The fear is that under these proposals the educational offer to our young people could vary greatly across the County creating deep and harmful inequality. There would also be few safeguards in place to ensure that the present high standards are maintained.

Labour Education spokesperson, County Councillor Clive Grunshaw, commented:

"The current rush by Coalition Government to create new school academies will undoubtedly create further disparity and unfairness within our education system. Unrealistic and unjust financial incentives are being offered yet no clear financial plan appears to be in place for their funding. Quite simply, the Coalition Government is attempting to use already 'outstanding' schools to prove that their only education policy will be a success despite the obvious inaccuracies, anomalies and omissions in the proposed legislation."
Tuesday 06 July 2010
Black Day for Pendle Schools: all Colne and Barnoldswick Rebuild Projects Stopped
The cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme has been condemned by Pendle County Councillor George Adam. The Department for Education announced on Monday (5 July) that 715 rebuild and refurbishment projects are to be stopped, and funding will be cut for other capital projects.

Cllr Adam said: “In Pendle that means that plans to massively improve Fisher More, Colne Park, Colne Primet and West Craven Technology College have had the rug pulled out from under them. Funding for this work had already been allocated in December last year. It is particularly galling for Primet where plans to co-locate the secondary school, the junior school and Pendle View special school were well advanced.”

“Parents in Colne and Barnoldswick will be ruing the day that the Con-Dem coalition came into power. Lib-Dem councillors must ask themselves why their leaders are part of a government that is blighting the educational chances of the children in these towns.”

“And Andrew Stephenson should hang his head in shame now that his government has shown its true colours. The Thatcher years are well and truly coming back.”

26 June 2010
Labour Activists celebrate Gordon's contribution to Pendle
On Friday 25th June the Labour Party in Pendle gathered to celebrate Gordon's 18 years as MP for Pendle. Included within the guests were 7 past presidents of the party together with Peter Pike former MP for Burnley and the leader of the Labour group in Pendle Mohammed Iqbal. The event was hosted by the current President of the CLP Bob Allen.

Gordon was congratulated by all the speakers on his tireless work for the people of Pendle and for his strong commitment to his principles that at times brought him into conflict with Labour party policy.He was presented with a small gift to commemorate his contribution to Labour values and his role as a pro active MP for the people of Pendle

Whilst Gordon will not be seeking re-election he is committed to fighting for the return of a Labour MP in Pendle.

22 June 2010
Has Andrew Stephenson disappeared off the local radar?
On 28 May, two very sensible question were put to Mr Stephenson by David Foat, a local Labour activist. The questions were put via the Nelson Leader/Colne Times publications, in the form of a letter published on 28 May 2010.

Given the local and national concerns about the Banking and Financial Sectors, we believe that Mr Stephenson should have welcomed the opportunity to respond. Unfortunately he has not.

We have also looked at his web site for a response but unfortunately the news content has not been updated since 13 April 2010.

We have copied Mr Foat's letter below. It would be nice if anyone who bumps into Mr Stephenson, would give him a nudge and ask him to reply.

Dear Sir

Recent European Ministerial decision to go ahead with legislation to control hedge funds to be implemented in 2012 was fiercely opposed by the UK new LibDem Tory Government and is the new coalition’s first failure in Europe.

Rightly or wrongly, there is a widespread view on the continent that hedge funds somehow caused the credit crunch and financial crisis of 2008. Whether this is correct is not clear, but what is clear is that hedge funds need some sorting out rather like the Egyptian Stock Exchange did several years ago in order to comply with what Western Civilisation has come to call “fairness”.

Hedge funds control around $1.5 trillion in assets globally, with about $300bn managed from within the EU - mainly in London. They offer their investment capabilities primarily to very wealthy individuals or to professional investors such as insurance companies and pension funds. Market experts reckon hedge funds account for as much as 50% of all trades on the London Stock Exchange. Some governments therefore fear they could pose a risk to the stability of the world's financial system and should be properly regulated.

These hedge funds are very often subject to the short-selling everyone seems to agree is a bit of a cheat. Borrowing something from someone, selling it, waiting for the price to fall, buying it back, giving it back to who owned it in the first place while pocketing the difference works contrary to the normal rules of supply and demand.

Does our new MP for Pendle, the Hon Andrew Stephenson agree that London-based hedge funds may be able to escape the full impact of these new restrictions, because very few of them are - in a legal sense - British or European institutions as most of them are domiciled in the Cayman Islands, to shelter the tax of their investors?

As Mr Stephenson runs an Insurance Business in Manchester, does our MP agree that there has been a need to properly regulate the “selling-on” of insurance across the EU and that proper regulation of hedge funds is also required?

Yours truly,

David Foat
Monday 14 June 2010
The ConDems spending cuts programme targets areas with the greatest need
  • Tory Eric Pickles has revealed the ConDems will be targeting cuts to local services on the areas with the greatest challenges and needs
  • The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government figures - published June 10 - show that it’s cities, struggling seasides and former industrial towns that will be bearing the brunt.
  • The ConDems have broken their promise not to balance the books on the back of the poorest. Where’s the fairness in this?
'Those in most need will bear the burden of cuts' - Tory minister Bob Neil on why northern cities will suffer
  • Local Government minister Bob Neill, unveiling the ConDems £1.2billion package of cuts to councils, suggested the poorest areas would suffer the most.
  • Asked why northern cities were losing millions more than southern areas, Mr Neill said: 'Those in greatest need ultimately bear the burden of paying off the debt.'
  • So much for ‘we're all in this together’.
  • One in eight public sector workers face losing their jobs under the ConDems cuts.
  • The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is predicting 725,000 of Britain’s six million state jobs could be lost as measures to tackle the deficit bite.

Saturday 05 June 2010
The Coalition Government’s £6 billion cuts programme - questions we need answers to in the North West
The Liberal-Conservative coalition needs to come clean on the details of what their £6 billion cuts mean.
They are dodging the answers because they didn’t want to explain the real impact on North West firms and families. But it’s already clear that these cuts will seriously affect support for business and families, hit jobs for young people and axe student places this September.

Undermining future growth
George Osborne has chosen the business department to be one of the biggest losers from these cuts:
  • 10,000 university places for this September have been scrapped.
  • The North West Regional Development Agency will have its spending on supporting regional businesses cut.
  • And the Government has cut the Future Jobs Fund, with over 40,000 jobs going, despite both parties promising that they had no plans to do this.
  • Removing support from business this year, when it’s needed most, and cutting the investment that will support the growth of the future is short-sighted.

Tuesday 25 May 2010
Tory/Lib Dem coalition cuts Regeneration Funding to Pendle?
Following the announcement by the Chancellor yesterday of £6 billion pounds of cuts, it has come to light that the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder budget is to be slashed by £50 million pounds. It is yet to be disclosed what the cut will be to East Lancashire.

Leader of the Labour Group and Housing Regeneration Portfolio Holder, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said “This is the first sign of the Tory/Lib Dem government that they intend to hit areas such as Pendle hard. The previous Labour government introduced and increased money to tackle poor housing but sadly this new coalition will ignore areas from Brierfield to Colne. I challenge our Tory MP, Andrew Stephenson to fight for Pendle and tell his government that Pendle will suffer if there is a cut in real terms”.
Monday 17 May 2010
Thank You - Robert Allen
On behalf of Pendle Labour Party I wish to thank all our members, volunteers and donors for their tremendous support during the recent General and District Election campaigns.

Our General election defeat was difficult to accept after having Gordon Prentice as our very able MP for 18 years; we fought a really good campaign but were unable to squeeze the Lib Dem vote despite them having a very weak candidate. And the long Ashcroft resourced campaign of the Tories was difficult to counteract.

How long the national coalition will last is any body’s guess, but we will be prepared for every eventuality.

At a district level we had some real success achieving a net gain of two seats.

Congratulations to Asjad Mahmmod, Mohammed Arshad, Mohammed Iqbal, Sheena Dunn, Julie Henderson and Kath Shore

Our longstanding Walverden councillor George Adam who retired from the district council this year requires a special mention. His unstinting hard work to ensure Walverden remained Labour, his mentoring of our successful Walverden candidate Julie Henderson and support provided in other wards was fantastic- George thank you.

There were many more individuals who worked tirelessly during the campaign and for that support the Labour Party thanks you.

The fight back starts now!

Bob Allen
Chair, Pendle CLP

Wednesday 05 May 2010
Pendle is not for sale - Gordon Prentice
I reflect on the campaign in Pendle as it draws to a close.

I made it clear from the very start that if the anti Conservative vote splits then Andrew Stephenson will be Pendle’s MP on Friday morning.

This constituency is a super marginal where every single vote counts.

The Lib Dems have saddled themselves with a truly woeful candidate in Afzal Anwar. Even those who nominated him stay well clear.

He refuses to talk candidly about why he chooses to have his sons educated in Pakistan. Yet, if elected, he would be voting on education policy for England.

We live in a free country. It is open to him to explain to voters his preference for educating his sons in Pakistan. But, no, he chooses to dissemble.

A vote tomorrow for Afzal Anwar is a vote for the Conservatives.

They have lavished thousands on their three year long campaign to buy the seat.

All over Pendle, the advertising hoardings shout out the Conservative message. They are spending as if there is no tomorrow.

We read in the Independent today that the tax dodger, Michael Ashcroft, has given the Conservatives a further donation of £123,464, topping up the millions that he has already handed over.

But people around here are not fools.

I sense a growing reaction against the flood of Conservative leaflets, newspapers and surveys funded by a tax cheat.

People know that Labour has been outspent by the Conservatives. But we have not been outgunned.

We have a good story to tell.

And the promise of a more radical future.

Friday 30 April 2010
Housing Minister visits Pendle
Housing Minister, John Healey paid a flying visit to Pendle earlier this week and saw at first hand the huge investment by the Labour government into improving homes across the Borough. The Minister was accompanied by Gordon Prentice and local Councillors.

Vice Chairman of Nelson Area Committee, Cllr Nadeem Younis and Mohammad Sakib accompanied the Minster around parts of Bradley which have been neglected by the Lib Dem run Council.

Cllr Younis said “Despite tens of millions of pounds of investment by the Labour government, it is disappointing that the Council are wasting money and neglecting areas of real need across Pendle. I sought an assurance from the Minister that this level of investment would continue under a Labour government, something which will disappear if the Tories win next Thursday”.
Wednesday 28 April 2010
Conservatives back pedal on A&E - Gordon Prentice
Andrew Stephenson is no longer giving an unequivocal promise that a Conservative Government would re-instate blue light A&E at Burnley General.

An interesting exchange yesterday on BBC Radio Lancashire’s Graham Liver show.

BBC Reporter, David Saville: “He says one of the biggest issues locally is the removal of the accident and emergency from Burnley general hospital, but he concedes the Tories can't promise to restore the service.”

Andrew Stephenson: “It’s not a certainty. We are not going round on doorsteps saying: 'vote for us and we will restore the A&E department.' Er, however, Andrew Lansley is very keen for it to come back, but he wouldn't unilaterally as health secretary, he wouldn't, er, demand that the A&E department has to re-open. We would work with local GP's and medical professionals to see what is right.”

Compare this with the October 2009 edition of the Conservative rag, “Pendle Matters”.

Under the headline “Tory Health Chief backs call for A&E to return to Burnley” Andrew Lansley, who had just visited the hospital, made this commitment: “I am very clear after the conversations I have had that, in my view, there is no reason why there should not be an accident and emergency service at Burnley General Hospital.”

There is no mention in the Conservative manifesto of re-instating blue light A&E departments which are now Urgent Care Centres.

Ditto, the Lib Dems.

I am waiting for the report of Professor Matthew Cooke, the National Director of Emergency and Urgent Care, who is looking at the Burnley issue after I raised the matter with the Prime Minister in the Commons in October last year.
Monday 26 April 2010
Cult of the Leader - Gordon Prentice
The Leaders’ TV debates are distorting this election.

The journalists and commentators from the national press simply love them. They are high drama, always with the possibility of something unpredictable happening. And they are different. New.

This focus on the debates, to the exclusion of everything else, suggests the Leader is all powerful. That he can shape events and determine outcomes. Steady on! It is not quite so simple.

This morning’s papers are full of talk of coalitions and who is cosying up to whom.

We are told that Nick Clegg wouldn’t prop up Broon. And that Clegg could cut a deal with Cameron if the electoral arithmetic so determined.- What fantasy.

A Con-Lib coalition or other arrangement wouldn’t survive a weekend.

Here in Pendle, the brittle and humourless local councillor and peer, Tony Greaves, would throw his sandals at Clegg rather than be tainted by association with the Conservatives. He loathes the Conservatives more than Labour. And that is saying something.

Cameron has his own problems. Lurking in the wings are the Europhobes with their foam flecked lips, ready to make their own demands in the event of a Conservative win.

In the House of Commons, MPs each have one vote. There isn’t a special weighting for Leaders. - Yet.

Thursday 22 April 2010
Mock election at Marsden Heights
Gordon Prentice, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Pendle, will be meeting
students at Marsden Heights Technology College on Tuesday 27 April as part of the College’s Mock General Election. He will be advising the Labour candidate on mounting a campaign and how to win the student vote. Andrew Stephenson and Afzal Anwar will be coaching their respective candidates.

Gordon Prentice will also be speaking to students about the importance of getting involved in the political issues that affect them.

The MP commented “Running a mock election is a great way to get students interested in the local campaign and asking questions. I look forward to helping the Labour candidate come top of the poll.”

The event will be followed by a tour of the College’s new building which students moved into on 22 April.
Wednesday 21 April 2010
Huge fall in Lancashire crime - Gordon Prentice
Astonishing drop in crime in Lancashire is revealed in statistics published by the Lancashire Police Authority.

Some categories of crime are down to levels last seen in the 1970s.

If the Conservatives win the election, the Lancashire Police Authority gets the chop and the politicisation of the police moves a step closer.

The Conservative manifesto says this: “We will replace the existing, invisible and unaccountable police authorities and make the police accountable to a directly-elected individual who will set policing priorities for local communities.” Chilling stuff.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Hague told to come clean on Ashcroft
Gordon Prentice writes on his blog:

"Just visited David Milliband’s website and co-signed his letter to William Hague, demanding answers on Ashcroft.

The Conservatives cannot credibly claim to be open and transparent while they continue to dissemble about Ashcroft, the man who is bankrolling their operation here in Pendle.

Pendle is at the heart of their operation to buy the election."

Visit David Milliband's website.

David writes:

“I’ve now written to William Hague five times asking him two simple questions. Why he has changed his story on when he knew about Lord Ashcroft’s non-dom status? On the occasions when Lord Ashcroft has flown him, or others, around the world, has Ashcroft participated in meetings with foreign officials in countries where he has business interests?”

“These questions are simple and go to the heart of William Hague’s judgement and credibility, both of which suffer the longer he continues to refuse to reply.”

“So let’s try something a bit different.”

“During this election, the public won’t stand for politicians keeping silent and hoping questions go away.”

Co-sign my letter to William Hague and demand the straight answers the public deserve.

Monday 19 April 2010
Pendle Conservatives and the NHS
The latest Conservative leaflet to come fluttering through our letterboxes pledges that only the Conservatives can stop the closure of Burnley’s Children Ward.

The NHS plans to transfer the Children’s Ward at Burnley to Blackburn and there is understandable disquiet about this and the inconvenience for people in Burnley and Pendle.

At the same time, a new Women’s and New Born Centre, costing £32 million, will open at Burnley General in October. I’ve written about this before.

I am waiting to hear from the Chief Executive of the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Diane Whittingham, for details of any clinicians who oppose the transfer. So far, I haven’t heard of any but, if they are out there, we all want to hear from them. Pronto.

The patients’ voice, Lancashire LINk, should be speaking out and voicing any concerns, but it won’t. We won’t hear a peep. It is totally useless.

Andrew Stephenson, the Conservative candidate in Pendle, says that an incoming Conservative Government would immediately stop any closure and initiate a review commissioned by the area’s GPs.

This follows reports of an earlier promise from Andrew Lansley, the Conservative Health spokesman, to the National Director of Emergency and Urgent Care, Professor Matthew Cooke, that local GPs would be able to decide if Burnley General Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre should be upgraded to a full blown blue light A&E.

Despite all this bold talk, there is no commitment in the Conservative manifesto to re-instate A&Es that have been downgraded to UCCs.

Professor Cooke’s review, which was due out on 31 March, is now caught up in the NHS election purdah, and will now be published after the General election.

Stephenson’s leaflet is full of talk of cuts. Yet the NHS in East Lancashire has seen year on year increases in its budget.

East Lancashire Primary Care Trust, which commissions health services in the area, received £629.3 million in 2009-10 and will get £663.9 million in 2010-11. This is an increase over the two years of £67.4 million, or 11.3 per cent. in cash terms.

Sunday 18 April 2010
Burnley Children's Ward
Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Pendle, Gordon Prentice has written to the Chief Executive of the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS trust, Diane Whittingham, to get the chapter and verse on the reasons for the proposed move of the Deerplay children’s ward from Burnley to Blackburn hospital.

Prentice also received a motion from Pendle Borough’s Council meeting of 25th March stating the Council’s concern at “the proposal… to close down the children’s ward at Burnley Hospital”

The motion was backed by all political parties.

Speaking from Nelson, Gordon Prentice said: “I have asked the Chief Executive if any doctors or nurses oppose the move of the children’s ward from Burnley to Blackburn on clinical grounds. I have had no letters from local doctors or other heath professionals complaining about the move.”

“Other things being equal, I want to see health services provided as close to home as possible. People around here don’t want to traipse over to Blackburn if they have a child in hospital.”

“The only thing that would offset that inconvenience is clinical care of the highest possible quality. It mustn’t be about saving money. It must be in the best interests of the children concerned.”

“The simple question is this. Why is it that the children’s ward has to go to Blackburn when the £32 million state-of-the-art Women and New Born Centre is opening in Burnley in October?”

“As a lay-person I am in no position to comment on the possible advantages of having all the children and the experts and medical resources in one place but I can appreciate that travelling to Blackburn hospital rather than Burnley, to visit a child is very inconvenient for many parents from Pendle.”

Friday 16 April 2010
First Hustings of the campaign - Gordon Prentice
The RSPB deserve a pat on the back for organising the first hustings of the campaign in Pendle.

The meeting last night at Barrowford Civic Hall was well attended given the competing attraction on ITV.

The biggest laugh was at the expense of the Conservative, Andrew Stephenson, who said rather earnestly that his office was paperless.

“That’s because it's all being pushed through our letterboxes!” quips Graham Cannon from UKIP.

At the end of the good natured meeting, I was ambushed by the organisers and am now a fully paid up member of the RSPB. And I have a tawny owl badge to prove it.

Wednesday 14 April 2010
The Hunting Act and me - Gordon Prentice
It is a little known fact that the Hunting Act, love it or loathe it, is on the Statute Book because of me.

I feel a tad aggrieved, but not surprised, that Conservatives are pledged to repeal it. Or, in their weasely words, they “will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a Government Bill in Government time.”

Back to me.

Over the years there were any number of failed attempts to outlaw hunting with dogs using the Private Members’ Bill route. These were always destined to fail. The procedural hurdles in getting a controversial Private Members’ Bill through are legendary.

Over a decade ago, my landmark Private Members’ Bill on the Right to Roam won huge support. But it was controversial. To its great credit, the Government took up the Bill and put it into law as the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. (CROW Act)

I was on the Bill Committee. In a blinding flash of the obvious, I realised it would be procedurally in order for Part III of the Bill to be amended to outlaw hunting with dogs. I quietly collected more than 100 signatures of MPs who would back my amendment which I would then table in Committee.

I knew the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was nervous about opening up another flank and alienating the Countryside Alliance types.

But a Bill to ban hunting with dogs would be immensely popular in the Party and beyond.

I shall never forget that morning when, at a pre-meeting before the Committee proper started, I told my Labour colleagues that I was going to table the amendment whether the Government wanted me to or not. Klaxons! Alarm bells! Dive for cover!

The Whip was incandescent. A Departmental Minister was apoplectic. A PPS, enraged. Michael Meacher, who was responsible for the Bill, was more measured.

I was told by the enforcers, very bluntly, that I was letting the side down. That I was wrecking the CROW Bill that I had done so much to bring forward. The message was absolutely clear. On no account must this amendment be tabled.

Well that’s just too bad.

I knew the Government could not allow the CROW Bill to fail. It was a popular piece of legislation and we had built up a huge head of steam after years of campaigning.

I made my offer.

I said that the Private Members’ Bill procedure to outlaw hunting with dogs was always destined to fail. The procedural hoops and hurdles guaranteed it.

Instead I wanted the Government to announce at the dispatch box in the House of Commons that it would be bringing forward its own Bill to outlaw hunting with dogs.

In those circumstances I would withdraw my amendment.

And I did. The rest is history.

Tomorrow night, I have my first hustings at Barrowford Civic Hall, organised by the RSPB. Animal welfare is on the agenda.

I am looking forward to it
Wednesday 14 April 2010
Worried about crime? Anti-Social behaviour?
Gordon Prentice, Labour’s candidate in the General Election wants you to check out a new police report card published by the independent police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The HMIC has a new website  which allows the public to look at their local police service and see how it measures up against the others.

Do you think the local police force are doing a good job?

How do crime rates in Pendle compare with others?

Are you paying more in council tax for your police force than average
and if so, is this reflected in the crime rate?

The site gives statistics so you can compare your force with other forces and makes professional judgements on what the figures mean. For example, Lancashire Constabulary is giving an Excellent rating for local crime and policing, reducing crime, solving crime and other categories.

Gordon Prentice says: “The police here are doing a good job, but there is always room for improvement. Everyone wants to see police officers on the streets.”

“The new website gives us all the opportunity to make our views known on what is a very important issue.”

“Perception is everything. People tell me that crime round here is going up, when the opposite is the case. Websites like this – and local crime maps help counter all the misinformation there is out there.”

Tuesday 13 April 2010
The Conservative Manifesto on health - Gordon Prentice
Today, I have been reading the Conservative manifesto.

I turn immediately to the section on health. The downgrading of Burnley General Hospital’s A&E department to an Urgent Care Centre has been a red hot issue for years.

People around here want their A&E back. I agree. But it should come with a publicly available protocol setting out the conditions which can, and cannot, be treated at Burnley.

The Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has been to East Lancashire milking the controversy for all it is worth. He solemnly promised to re-instate A&E at Burnley. “There is no reason why Burnley cannot have its A&E back.”

Then he qualified his promise. Now it was to be a matter for local doctors. If they wanted A&E reinstated then so be it.

Pull the other one!

That promise too has disappeared into the ether.

The manifesto says nothing about re-instating A&Es which have been downgraded to Urgent Care Centres.

It says: “We will stop the forced closure of A&E and maternity wards, so that people have better access to local services, and give mothers a real choice over where to have their baby, with NHS funding following their decisions.”

Nye Bevan told us you can’t trust the Tories. So true. Some things never change
Monday, 12 April 2010
Gordon Prentice gives his candid analysis of the Labour Party Manifesto
There is a lot of good stuff in Labour’s manifesto. I skip over the material I disagree with.

Of course, there is an important caveat about manifestos.

If, as I hope, there is a Labour Government after 7 May, experience teaches us that events, rather than what is said in the manifesto, will decide the Government’s response.

Tony Blair was always going on about “doing the right thing”. I recall his support for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon fell into that category.

Some facts jump off the page and hit you between the eyes. We are told that Labour has provided over 26,000 extra prison places since 1997.

I have just been reading a letter from the Howard League for Penal Reform which tells me that each prison place costs the taxpayer about £41,000 a year. You can do the sums.

The manifesto tells me that homicides are at the lowest level for a decade. Gun murders at the lowest level for 20 years.

Yes. There are more criminals in prison. Not because crime is rising but because violent and serious offenders are going to prison for longer.

The Howard League tells me that 70,000 men, women and children are given short prison sentences, sometimes just a few days. They calculate this wastes £10 billion annually which could be spent on other things.

I note the manifesto says there are 17,000 more police officers than in 1997 as well as 16,000 Police Community Support Officers. Hmmmm.

What do I like? One or two examples. In no particular order.

I like greater protection for local Post Offices and pubs. And a People’s bank based on the Post Office. Here in Pendle, pubs have been closing at an alarming rate.

I like the emphasis on strengthening mutuals and co-operatives. People are fed up with bankers and the wide boys in financial services.

I like fixed term Parliaments. And an elected second chamber.

I like the idea that no young person should be long term unemployed. And that there will be an additional one million skilled jobs created by 2015.

I like the proposed National Landlords Register. With free and impartial advice given to the 3 million households who rent in the private sector.

I approve of ending the default retirement age and allowing those who want to work on to do so. Three cheers. That’s what I say.

What don’t I like? One or two things.

We are to have a Defence Review but Trident is excluded from it. We are all aware of the history of the great stitch-up. No vote was allowed at Conference on Trident. And when I tabled a motion to the Parliamentary Labour Party in my name along with Paul Flynn and John Austin, the motion disappeared from the agenda and was replaced with: “A discussion on Trident led by the Defence Secretary, John Reid”.

If it were ever put to them, Party members would never sign a cheque for £75 billion for this white elephant.


Tomorrow (Tuesday), it’s the turn of the Conservatives.
Saturday 10 April 2010
Election Campaign Launch
Labours Parliamentary and Borough Council Candidates took a break from campaigning to gather in Colne today, for the official launch of the campaign

Gordon Prentice the current MP and Parliamentary Candidate was in a bouyant mood and told the meeting that he was looking forward to the campaign.

He was confident that a renewed Labour Government and new Labour faces on Pendle Borough Council, would deliver a fresh impetus to bring real and lasting change that would benefit the people of Pendle.

Saturday 10 April 2010
Minister in visit to Pendle
Home Office Minister Meg Hillier MP was in Pendle on Thursday to meet local women. Meg Hillier visited a female only gym, Slimtone based at Silverman Hall where she met women who use the facility. She was shown around by the owner, Sobia Nawaz.

Later she popped into Southfield Community Action Forum and spoke to about 20 ladies who shared the issues affecting people in Pendle and a frank exchange of ideas took place between all.

Leader of the Labour Group Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said “The flying visit by the Minister was welcomed by the people she met as it is apparent that only a Labour government has invested in Pendle heavily since 1997 and a vote for the Conservatives is a vote to return to the dark old days of the early 1990’s”.
Friday 09 April 2010
Warm Front Scheme
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, has responded to a Motion from Pendle Borough Council which was critical of the Warm Front Scheme, pointing to delays in carrying out work.

The MP said “Long delays are of course unacceptable, but we must not overlook the tremendous contribution the Warm Front Scheme has made to people here in Pendle. Over 9,000 households have benefited from heating or insulation help, and many of those have received an increase in their weekly income following a Warm Front Benefit Entitlement Check.”

“There will be many people who used to shiver through the winter who now have reason to thank Eaga and the Scheme.”

Thursday 08 April 2010
Labour Councillor welcomes new bus stop in Whitefield
Labour Councillor Asjad Mahmood has finally secured the replacement of a new bus stop on Manchester Road, Nelson after months of campaigning with Lancashire County Council.
Cllr Mahmood said “the old one was demolished a few months ago following an accident and many residents have had to put up with poor weather whilst waiting for a bus. I am glad that the new one has been installed and I look forward to local people using the services.

Tuesday 06 April 2010
Pendle Parks staffing problems
Sue Nike, the Labour candidate for Barrowford ward and Chair of the Friend’s of Barrowford Park, is dismayed at the way Pendle Council has lost all its park-keepers. The last park-keeper left recently and now there are none to maintain the borough’s parks apart from the over-stretched supervisor.

Sue said “It appears that the 6 well qualified park-keepers have now left after the Council changed the way that parks were managed, including changing the role of the park keeper to ‘law enforcer’. The loss of the group of young and enthusiastic park-keepers means the flower beds will not be maintained and the valuable education programmes that the park-keepers provided will be lost.

“There is talk of savings of £70,000 from the Parks budget with job reductions from six to two to cover the whole borough. The recruitment of two replacement park-keepers is due to get underway after the Easter break.

“The Council appear to be unwilling to put more money into the parks. They are supplementing the traditional park-keeper role with ‘enforcement officers’ to deter people from littering, fly tipping and dog fouling. So our parks may be cleaner, but they are likely to have fewer flowers and no children’s programmes. The local parks have been a great asset to local people and this plan by the Lib Dem administration is a wrong priority.”

Tuesday 06 April 2010
Lancashire County Council pouring money down the drain
At the end of January Lancashire County Council (LCC) lost a legal ruling over the award of a multi-million pound waste contract. County Hall challenged the decision in Manchester Civil Justice Centre but their argument was rejected. LCC has said it will now take the case to the Court of Appeal, the second highest court in the country.

Pendle County Councillor George Adam is appalled at the huge amounts of tax-payers money that is being wasted to contest a decision that appears sound.

Cty Cllr Adam said “The original judge decided County Hall showed ‘bias’ against Environmental Waste Controls Ltd (EWC) when awarding a contract to waste giant SITA. EWC claimed its bid had been £3.5million cheaper than the rival company.

“It is appalling, not only that the Conservative administration agreed a contract that would cost the tax-payer an additional £3.5million over 3 years, but that they have the nerve to rack up massive lawyer’s bills fighting this case through the courts. It just doesn’t make sense.

“To add injury to insult, the County Council staff are having wage cuts and worsening working conditions imposed on them.”

Cty Cllr Adam, who was elected in May 2009, commented “If this is the mess that the Conservatives can cause in 8 months at county level, what is the prospect for the country if the Conservatives win the General Election this May.

Tuesday 06 April 2010
Frank Hartley
It is with much sadness we record the death of a committed socialist and former Councillor Frank Hartley. He died this morning in Blackburn Royal hospital. He was a longstanding Councillor with both Nelson and Pendle and a Mayor of Nelson. In recognition of his long service and achievements Pendle made him a Freeman of the Borough.

The Labour Movement will remember Frank with great pride

Tuesday 30 March 2010
The National Care Service
The Government today unveiled plans for a new National Care Service, offering high quality care and support for everyone, wherever they live and whatever condition they may have.

The Government says it is designed on the same principle as the NHS. People will be protected from catastrophic care costs.

It is estimated that over the next twenty years 1.7 million more people will have a care need than is the case today. The current system will not be able to cope. That is why change is needed.

Speaking from Westminster, Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, said: "I want a serious debate on this crucially important issue. It is forecast that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will need care in a residential care home at some point in their lives."

"The Government believes the current system will not be able to cope with these extra demands and that by 2026, around 400,000 over 65s with high needs will not be getting the levels of care that they require."

The National Care Service will overhaul the way care and support is paid for and provided. It will be phased in three stages.

30th March 2010
County Councillor appalled at proposed Tory cuts to Disabled Care Services
County Councillor, Mohammed Iqbal, is appalled at the latest cost cutting exercise by Lancashire County Council’s Conservative administration. The Councillor said: “The County Council is trying to save £600,000 by cutting the care costs of the most disabled people in Lancashire. They are trying to save an average of £6,000 on each of the 100 most costly cases.

It is outrageous that these severely disabled individuals who rely on the County council for their care funding should be the subject of a cost-cutting exercise.

The County Council are using a private consultancy firm, OLM Professional Services, to evaluate the care services provided at present. Part of their income will be dependent on how much they can save.

Common sense says that OLM will be out to maximise the savings in order to make profits. The cuts will inevitably lead to a reduction in the quality of care for each patient. This is not acceptable.”
29 March 2010
Pendle and Burnley Labour Westminster Candidates meet over dinner.
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice and Burnley’s prospective MP, Julie Cooper, gave contrasting and passionate speeches at a fund-raising dinner for Pendle Labour Party on Sunday (28March). The get-together was held at the White Swan in Fence and was attended by local Labour Party activists and supporters.

Gordon Prentice was able to talk in depth about the recent changes in Parliament and the forthcoming General Election campaign. He spoke about Labour’s achievements in Pendle and the good story the party had to tell on the campaign trail. He also gave insights into the work done by the highly influential Public Administration Select Committee.

Julie Cooper, leader of Burnley Council’s Labour Group, who was born and bred in Burnley, told the group she has dedicated herself to improving the life of Burnley’s ordinary citizens like herself. She inspired the ladies, young and less young, with the story of her determination to win the nomination and rally support for her campaign.

29 March 2010
Further delay for new Colne Health Centre
Pendle MP Gordon Prentice is dismayed that health bosses failed to make a decision last week about the future of the proposed new Health Centre in Colne.

Mr Prentice said ‘The £10 million project has been talked about since 2006. But long delays were forced onto East Lancs Primary Care Trust by Pendle Council, who originally wanted the centre to be built on the steeply sloping old Kippax site along Dockray Street.

‘I am very disappointed at this lack of progress from last Thursday’s PCT Board meeting. I have met Steve Spoerry, the Chief Executive of the East Lancs PCT, a number of times and when we last met at the end of January I was assured that a decision on the Colne Health Centre would be made by the March PCT Board meeting.

‘What is particularly galling for the residents of Colne and Pendle, is that the Colne Health Centre was a higher priority than the Rossendale Health Centre back in 2006 when the projects were started.

‘The Rossendale Centre is being officially opened this week, to glowing reports from all sides. So the delay forced on the PCT by Pendle Council’s Liberal Democrats has cost the people of Colne very dearly.’

‘The Kwik-Save site on Craddock Street has been bought by the PCT but it stands idle, despite a PCT Board report confirming that “for functional suitability Colne scores lowest” - that means, the current Health Centre is bursting at the seams!’

The MP added: “I am not trying to score cheap political points when I say the project was derailed by the inability of the Lib Dem administration to come to a view about where the health centre should be located. But that is the unfortunate fact of life.”

Thursday 25 March 2010
Review of Burnley Urgent Care Centre
An Accident and Emergency Department should be reinstated at Burnley General Hospital. And, alongside, there should be a published protocol setting out which conditions could be treated there and those, such as severe burns and head injuries, which would have to go elsewhere.

This was the straightforward message delivered by Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, to Professor Matthew Cooke, the National Director of Emergency and Urgent Care, when they met in London earlier today.

Speaking after the meeting, the MP said: "Professor Cooke was totally up to speed on all the issues and, as you would expect, he had a very good understanding of the background."

"The plain fact is that Burnley’s Urgent Care centre is operating below capacity as ambulances take people on to Blackburn which often struggles to cope."

The MP added: "Burnley’s Urgent Care Centre could do what many A&E departments elsewhere are doing."

Wednesday 24 March 2010
The Budget
Budget 2010 – what does it mean for you?

Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today welcomed the Budget which is designed to put the country back on the path of growth as we emerge from a fierce global recession.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "Everyone knows the global recession is hitting everyone hard. But taking an axe to public services, as the Conservatives propose, is precisely the wrong solution."

"I welcome the stamp duty land tax relief for first time buyers paid for by an increase in stamp duty on houses worth over £1 million."

"I welcome the Young Person’s Guarantee after March 2011 to guarantee training or work experience if they cannot find a job within six months."

"The continuation of the additional payment alongside the Winter Fuel Payment of £100 to households with someone over 80 will be welcomed."

The MP added: "These are difficult times, no question, but we are getting through them."

Further information on different aspects of the budget can be downloaded here

Budget is good for Small Businesses
The Federation of Small Businesses today declared the Budget to be good for cash flow.
The Federation's positive reaction was welcomed by Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "The Chancellor had a difficult hand but he played it with some skill. We are in the grip of a fierce global recession caused by an under-regulated finance sector with a worldwide reach. It started in America and the contagion spread around the world."

"I am pleased small business, which are so vital to our economy, have recognised the Government has moved to meet many of their concerns."

"They have concerns about jobs. But we all have. Unemployment is lower here than in our major competitor countries."

Wednesday 24 March 2010
The Sydney Silverman Memorial Lecture - 19 March 2010
Tim Ormerod made a presentation on behalf of the Co-operative Party and Gordon Prentice spoke about some of the background to the forthcoming General Election.

Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham was the principal speaker and delivered a lecture entitled: 'A new Labour Covenant with the people of England'. Some extracts are included below.

'The depth and danger of the recession has brought our country to a turning point in its history. The future of the Labour Party will be won or lost in England. We need to create a new covenant with the people.'

Speaking about the time when he first became MP for Dagenham, Jon said, “Politics lay in the spirit of the people, both migrant and settled, facing extraordinary odds with great tenacity. What united them in their differences was their love and determination to reach for something better in life.”

Jon gave an assessment of the Labour Party in Government and the need for change to enable a Labour Government to serve the people in the future.

“The Labour Party remade itself out of the defeats of the 1980s. Three extraordinary election victories destroyed the myth that the Tories were born to rule. In a hostile climate we rebuilt our public services. Neglected hospitals and schools have been rebuilt. The infrastructure of our country, fallen into ruin, has also been rebuilt.

Hundreds of thousands of children have been lifted out of poverty. Many pensioners have been lifted out of poverty. Education, health, care for children have all improved. Britain is a better place for thirteen years of Labour government.

But Labour made its own Faustian pact with the City. Too often we sided with the power of money against labour. We avoided tackling the causes of inequality. Whatever the outcome of the next general election we are entering a period of political and economic change. We will meet the challenge with new thinking, new ideas and new debates across the party. And a new Labour covenant with the people.”

Wednesday 24 March 2010
Lib Dems in crisis over Regeneration Money
Labour Leader on Pendle Council and Lancashire County Councillor for Brierfield and Nelson North, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal has attacked the mismanagement of much-needed government funds by the Liberal Democrat run Housing Regeneration Committee and has once again called on the Chairman , Cllr Sonia Robinson to resign or be sacked for “ineptitude and a neglect of duty to the public of Pendle”

Cllr Iqbal who was at the Housing Meeting on Monday said “On some of the main areas from Colne through to Brierfield, there is a huge under spend of money which the Labour government gave to Pendle to spend on regenerating our areas. Over 3 months ago, I asked for assurances that areas such as Brierfield, Nelson and Colne would have their allocation spent, Cllr Robinson said this would happen but we now see her refusing to answer genuine questions about what on earth she has been doing because there is a huge under spend on areas where residents are crying out for help. At the meeting, she tried to keep me quiet but I am extremely angry on behalf of residents who want the Council to help but the Lib Dems who dominate the Regeneration Committee with 6 members compared to 1 each from Labour/Conservatives, either don’t bother to turn up or try to bully us to keep quiet.

I repeat my demand on behalf of the people – She should be sacked!”

Examples of the under-spend include:

Railway Street, Brierfield £148,311 (93%) of the allocation not spent
Brierfield Canal Corridor £515,984 (41.8%) of the allocation not spent
Bradley £761,819 (38.5%) of the allocation not spent
Gateways £452,191,(35.6%) of the allocation not spent
Grotspots £189,080 (75.6%) of the allocation not spent

Tuesday 23 March 2010
Tree Felling Shock!
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, was shocked to hear from Brierfield residents about the number of trees being felled on Garden Street and Chapel Street in the town.

The MP, who is an honorary Member of the Institute of Landscape Architects, said: “Residents were incensed to find trees on their streets being felled, some with nesting birds in, without any warning.”

“The felling was requested by the County Council on the grounds of highway safety, and passed by Brierfield & Reedley Area Committee in November last year. However residents do not feel the tree roots were causing problems on the pavements and are angry that the felling has completely ruined the streetscape with a knock-on effect on property values.”

The MP added: “There is clearly an issue of consultation here. I am in touch with the County Council and have asked them to hold off until the matter is resolved. Suitable replacement trees must be part of the solution.”

Friday 19 March 2010
Pendle MP welcomes project to inspire young people
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is delighted at the investment of government money in the Inspiring Communities Project. The money to fund the project has come from the Department of Communities and Local Government. Pendle's Children's Trust, an arm of Pendle Partnership, received £375,000 from the Inspiring Communities Grant Programme to lead on the activities locally.

The project is aimed at helping children aged 11-14 and their parents in Bradley, Waterside and Vivary Bridge areas. Claire Grimshaw the Inspiring Communities Coordinator and two outreach workers are planning to inspire families to achieve. Broadening Horizons an aspect of the scheme hopes to set goals, inspire job opportunities and engage with local companies for mentoring and work experience. They will also be providing the opportunity for children, parents and grandparents to go on tours around Universities.

Mr Prentice commented, 'This investment from the Department of Communities and Local Government is another example of important initiatives to promote an enterprise culture among our young people.

There are lots of examples of individuals from all sorts of backgrounds being successful in all types of enterprises. The project will make sure that young people and their parents know what kind of opportunities are out there. This project, is a good first step to inspire our young people.'

To contact Claire Grimshaw about becoming a mentor or to get involved in the Inspiring Communities Project call 01282 866 769.

Friday 19 March 2010
Pendle MP supports additional £2.5million to fight mortgage repossessions
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed a huge cash boost from the government of £2.5 million which is being invested in a scheme designed to help homeowners in East Lancashire stay in their homes. The scheme is aimed at people who find they are struggling to meet their mortgage repayments, after it was revealed that East Lancashire towns are ‘repossession hotspots’.

Speaking from Westminster, Prentice said: ‘As this global recession takes hold, unemployment will, unfortunately, increase. The Government is doing everything it can to ensure the recession is as short and as shallow as possible. But if people can’t make their mortgage repayments, repossession should be absolutely the last resort. That is why I welcome this new support which is being brought forward.’

If you live in Pendle and you are facing problems with your mortgage contact the Pendle Citizen’s Advice Bureau at:

Nelson Office:61-63, Every Street, Nelson,Lancashire,BB9 7LT (01282 616750)

Colne Office:The Citadel,Market Place,Colne,Lancashire,BB8 0HY(01282 867188)

Barnoldswick Office:10 Rainhall Road,Barnoldswick,Lancashire,BB18 5AF (01282 854340).

Friday 19 March 2010
Lancashire County Council leaving roads and pavements unsafe
County Councillor George Adam is shocked that Councillor Keith Young, Tory highways chief, is neglecting the job that he has been appointed to do. He said 'Lancashire County Council has been told that the roads in Lancashire are "sub standard" by Council inspectors. Utilities companies who carry out work on roads and pavements do not replace the surfaces to a decent standard. Council inspectors looked at the way thousands of roads and pavements were replaced after work on gas mains and water pipes - and found 20 per cent were not up to scratch. With 32,500 projects carried out last year, around 6,500 were left needing more work.'

County Councillor Adam believes that the Council should take responsibility, 'The state of the roads in Lancashire is appalling. More needs to be done to monitor the work that is being carried out. Lancashire County Council is supposed to be responsible for maintaining the roads and making sure that any of the work that is carried out on the roads is done correctly.’

‘This report only highlights the inability of the council to do their job properly. With all the privatisation and cost cutting that is currently happening within the Conservative led council, you have to wonder whether the council will have the man-power to monitor all the work handled by the contractor companies. I would like Cllr Young to visit Pendle, when I would be happy to show him a sample of the problems left behind after repair work!'
Wednesday 17 March 2010
Pendle Jobless Figures Fall
Constituency unemployment figures for February 2010 were published at 9.30am today by the Office for National Statistics. The number of unemployed people in Pendle on Jobseekers’ Allowance in February 2010 was 2,081.

This represents a rate of 5.2% of the economically active population, the 346th highest of the 646 UK constituencies. The number of people on JSA is 36 higher than in February 2009 and 87 lower than in January 2010.

Speaking from Westminster, local MP Gordon Prentice commented: “Unemployment has dipped in Pendle and that is good news. But, as we all know, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. We are in the grip of a fierce global recession.”

“Unemployment in comparable Western democracies is generally higher than here. In some, such as Spain, it is dangerously high.”

Monday 15 March 2010
Credit Cards
A new agreement between the Government and the credit and store card companies will give new rights to over 30 million credit card users in Britain.

Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed the deal saying the changes will be introduced by the industry later this year.

The Government’s agreement with the card companies will mean the most expensive debt is paid off more quickly, and better repayment plans for new customers.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "I know there are lots of people who are crushed by credit card debts. These new consumer rights will help people manage their finances and also deter irresponsible lending."

New Consumer Credit Directive regulations and Office of Fair Trading "Irresponsible Lending Guidance" are to be introduced before the summer, requiring lenders to check customers can afford a loan. Lenders will have to give clear information on new loans and give a 14-day cooling off period during which new loans can be cancelled.

All consumers will have access to their credit records online for £2 or free of charge from June 2010.

Friday 12 March 2010
MP encouraged by expanding Barrowford engineering company
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice recently visited MERC Engineering in Barrowford, to hear from the sharp end how local businesses are coping with the economic downturn.

MERC Engineering has recently been awarded a £40,000 contribution towards the cost of a new CNC lathe and machining centre from the Local Enterprise Grant Initiative (LEGI) funded by the Government. This is part of a major initiative to increase employment opportunities and help safeguard existing jobs. Pennine Lancashire has had £750,000 in funding during 2009/10, using the local authorities as the link to employers.

Gordon Prentice commented, “The LEGI grant has enabled MERC Engineering to buy a very sophisticated piece of engineering equipment. It will significantly reduce the time required to produce complex products for a wide range of customers and varied applications. The CNC machining centre enables the technical drawings to be downloaded from a computer and the complex part to be produced from a single piece of metal. It is most impressive to see.”

“Les Nuttall, MERC Engineering’s managing director, explained that the economic downturn had hit the company’s order book early in 2009 but intensive marketing and the investment from the LEGI fund had produced real benefits for the company and the future was looking much brighter. He is looking to create around 14 new jobs and the company is likely to expand into additional premises to handle the forecast work.”

“ It is vital to safeguard local jobs and provide essential capital for local companies during these difficult times. This initiative by the Department of Communities and Local Government is just part of the raft of measures to safeguard jobs and help businesses survive the world economic downturn, following the 2008 banking collapse.”

Thursday 11 March 2010
Walverden Water Flood Alleviation Scheme
Work on the Walverden Water Flood Alleviation Scheme gets under way in April and, according to the Environment Agency, is expected to take about a year.

The Agency told local MP, Gordon Prentice, that the £2 million investment is needed to reduce the flood risk to businesses and properties in the area.

The Agency explained: "The scheme involves water channel improvements to remove restrictions to flow, improvements to flood defences and culvert repairs. A culvert is an enclosed channel used to allow water to pass underneath a road, railway or embankment. Where it is possible these culverts will be opened up to allow for the channels to be more easily maintained and also to reduce the risk of blockages."

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "These kind of works can cause disruption but it is in everyone's interest to get them done asap."

The MP added: "The Environment Agency assures me they have contacted people in those properties which will be most affected and they will be making every effort to minimise the impact of the works."

Wednesday 10 March 2010
Local Club benefits from County Council Grant
A £250.00 cash boost from County Councillor Mohammed Iqbal has enabled Brierfield Celtic Football Club to purchase new equipment for youngsters at the Club.

The grant was made by Cllr Iqbal as part of his allocation of funding for being a County Councillor. Cllr Iqbal said “I am pleased that the grant has been put to excellent use by the Club and look forward to working with the Club in the future”

Lee Brown who is the Manager of the Under 13’s added “The youngsters are extremely grateful for this grant; it is appreciated by all involved at the club”

Cllr Naeem Ashraf who is involved with the Club added “I approached Cllr Iqbal for assistance as the youngsters were struggling to raise the funds to purchase the equipment. I would like to Thank Him for supporting us.”

Wednesday 10 March 2010
Silverman Lecture - Brierfield Community Centre, 19 March 2010 at 7.15 p.m
Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham will deliver the Sydney Silverman Memorial Lecture - 'A new Labour Covenant'
Pendle Labour Party is pleased to announce that Jon Cruddas MP will deliver the 2010 Sydney Silverman Memorial Lecture.
Jon became MP for Dagenham in 2001 and prior to that he worked in Number 10 Downing Street, liaising between the Government and the trade unions, helping promote an agenda for working people.

In 2007, Jon stood for election as Labour's deputy leader following the resignation of Tony Blair and John Prescott as Leader and Deputy Leader. After winning the most first round votes, Jon ended in third place. By standing for election, Jon opened the contest to new ideas - especially on housing, immigration and public services. He won the support of tens of thousands of members and trade unionists.

Bob Allen President of Pendle Labour Party says “We are delighted that Jon has agreed to give the Silverman lecture.
His principles of fighting for the rights of working people align so closely with those of Sydney.
The lecture in memory of Sydney is a public one that annually celebrates the life of the MP for Nelson and Colne from 1935 -1968. Sydney was an MP in the old Nelson and Colne constituency for over 30 years and one important milestone in his political career was finally, after many years of campaigning, seeing his bill to end capital punishment through the Commons and onto the statute book. In addition he campaigned on other human rights issues and for nuclear disarmament.”

Jon Cruddas says”

'The depth and danger of the recession has brought our country to a turning point in its history. The future of the Labour Party will be won or lost in England. We need to create a new covenant with the people”

Tuesday 09 March 2010
New businesses power ahead in East Lancs
Latest figures from Regenerate Pennine Lancashire (RPL) show a big increase in new business start ups.

Help with setting up new businesses comes from "No Limits" which is funded by the Government's Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI).

Speaking from Westminster, local MP Gordon Prentice, said: "I am hugely impressed by the scale of new business growth- and at the way in which everyone is pulling together. It is all about promoting enterprise and generating new jobs and prosperity."

"In Pendle we have 182 new business thanks to this initiative. It is great news.
Tuesday 09 March 2010
MP welcomes action on Dangerous Dogs
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed the Government’s decision to review the law on dangerous dogs.

In a consultation document published today, the Government says it is seeking views on whether current legislation on dangerous dogs adequately protects the public and whether it encourages responsible dog ownership.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: “I know from my constituency casework that dangerous dogs are a problem. Who feels comfortable walking past a slavering, bull necked dog with a spiked collar and fangs and which is off the leash?”

“These “status dogs” seem to me to lie at the very frontier of the term “domestic pet”. They are, instead, instruments of intimidation.”

The consultation paper looks at a series of options which include tightening up the legislation and introducing Dog Control Notices.

Other options being canvassed would require all dogs to be covered by third party insurance and requiring all dogs to be microchipped.

The MP added: “I am very much in favour of tougher controls.”

The consultation period runs from today (9 March) to 1 June 2010.

The document is available at

Tuesday 09 March 2010
Cameron’s Euro MPs vote against plans to tackle tax dodgers and target tax havens - Arlene McCarthy MEP
British Conservatives voted against proposals supporting the automatic exchange of information to crack down on those seeking to hide their money from the tax authorities.

Arlene said: “Tory Euro MPs’ actions make a mockery of George Osborne’s pledge at Tory Party Conference “to target tax evasion and offshore tax havens”. We should judge the Tory Party by their actions not by their words. Weakening proposals which seek to crack down on tax dodgers using tax havens shows they are not serious about tackling tax cheats.

“ The Tories cannot be trusted on tax, time and again they protect and prioritise the wealthy and privileged minority over law abiding taxpayers.”

“ If we have learnt one lesson from the financial crisis, it is that reforms must be based on more transparency
and increased access to information on all financial transactions. Labour Euro MPs support, alongside 25 out of 27 EU member states, the introduction of automatic data-sharing in the fight against tax evasion. With an estimated 18.5 Billion Pounds lost to the UK every year, tax evasion robs our schools and hospitals of vital resources. The wider public can judge for themselves whether the motivation for weakening global and EU efforts against tax evasion and tax havens is linked to the fact that major Tory party donors themselves
have non-transparent tax status.”
Euro Report March 2010 (PDF 478KB)

Monday 01 March 2010
Ashcroft should resign
Lord Ashcroft this morning disclosed that he is a non dom.

He does not pay UK taxes on his worldwide income but only on that part which is generated in the UK.

Speaking from Westminster, Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, commented: "Ashcroft has dissembled for a decade, concealing the fact that he is a non dom.

"He promised to take up long term residence in the UK as a condition of his peerage - and that means paying UK taxes like the rest of us."

"He has been bankrolling the Conservatives for years, buying the election with his huge wealth. Most of which is untaxed in the UK."

"The man is a fruad and should resign from the House of Lords."

1st March 2010
A Statement From Lord Ashcroft

I am making this statement in advance of the release by the Cabinet Office of limited information about the award of my peerage and of the undertakings I gave at the time.

While I value my privacy, I do not want my affairs to distract from the general election campaign. I have therefore decided to release a copy of the letter which I wrote to William Hague, and to expand on what actually happened.

As the letter shows, the undertakings I gave were confirmed in a memorandum to William Hague dated 23rd March 2000. These were to "take up permanent residence in the UK again" by the end of that year. The other commitment in the memorandum was to resign as Belize's permanent representative to the UN, which I did a week later.

In subsequent dialogue with the Government, it was officially confirmed that the interpretation in the first undertaking of the words "permanent residence" was to be that of "a long term resident" of the UK. I agreed to this and finally took up my seat in the House of Lords in October 2000. Throughout the last ten years, I have been declaring all my UK income to HM Revenue.

My precise tax status therefore is that of a “non-dom". Two of Labour's biggest donors - Lord Paul (recently made a privy councillor by the Prime Minister) and Sir Ronald Cohen, both long-term residents of the UK, are also "non-doms".

As for the future, while the non-dom status will continue for many people in business or public life, David Cameron has said that anyone sitting in the legislature - Lords or Commons - must be treated as resident and domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. I agree with this change and expect to be sitting in the House of Lords for many years to come.

Monday 01 March 2010
Pendle CLP AGM
At the AGM held on Friday 26 February 2010 Pendle CLP agreed to urge Lancashire County Council to buy up the section of the disused rail route between Colne and Kelbrook in order to enhance the campaign to see the line from Skipton to Colne re-opened.

The AGM also expressed disquiet at the announcement by the Payments Council UK to phase out cheques by 2018 and called for suitable alternative provision for those who will be adversely affected by the withdrawal of payment by cheque.

Thursday 25 February 2010
MP to force disclosure of Ashcroft's promise
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is making a further attempt to force the Conservative Vice Chairman, Lord Ashcroft, to reveal the terms of the undertaking he gave 10 years ago as a condition of being elevated to the peerage on the recommendation of the then Conservative leader, William Hague.

On Tuesday (2 March) the Commons will return to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill at Report Stage. The MP has tabled a new clause, backed by 77 MPs, which would lay a duty on the House of Lords Appointments Commission to satisfy itself that people who got a peerage after undertaking to do something – such as become a UK taxpayer – actually delivered on their promise.

Lord Laidlaw, a former Conservative Vice Chairman, and Lord Ashcroft both gave undertakings relating to their peerages.

The MP also wants the House of Lords Appointments Commission to scrutinise any conditions attached to the award of peerages to current members of the Lords by its predecessor body, the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "Ashcroft has repeatedly refused to clarify his tax status. He has stonewalled for a decade while bankrolling the Conservatives, giving two fingers to the electorate. His millions are allowing the Conservatives to buy seats at the next election."

Tuesday 23 February 2010
Water Charges
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today welcomed news from United Utilities that village halls and community centres are to be included in the site area charging moratorium alongside places of worship, scout and guide associations and community amateur sports clubs.

United Utilities Chief Executive, Philip Green, told the MP that the moratorium is to continue for a further year.

The MP commented: "Water charges can be crippling for many small organisations. I welcome this move and hope that people get in touch with United Utilities to follow it through."

According to Philip Green:

" United Utilities is writing to all existing moratorium customers explaining what will happen to their charges from April 2010. We are also writing to eligible village halls and community centres to let them know how they can apply to benefit from the moratorium.

We would encourage village halls and community centres in your constituency to visi
t where they can find out more information about the changes we are proposing and apply to benefit from the moratorium".

Tuesday 23 February 2010
Pendle County Councillors slam “Rabbit out of a hat” budget
Pendle County Councillors George Adam and Mohammed Iqbal are warning that last week’s announcement by the Conservative controlled Lancashire County Council of a council tax freeze is a conjuring trick that is hiding cuts to come.

Cllr Adam commented: “ The much hyped zero increase is a sham, paid for by using up reserves built up by the Labour administration, by an increase in annual grant from central government – and by cuts.”

“They are talking about savings of £24 million this year, rising to £36 million in twelve months’ time, but say that this will not result in front-line services being cut back. Who are they kidding? Already the Council has announced the loss of 200 jobs at County Hall as part of a job evaluation process.”

“Adult and Community Services, which is responsible for care homes and community work, will be forced to cut £7.6 million in 2010/11 and £5.6 million the following year.”

“ The Children and Young People directorate have to make savings of around £7 million increasing to £11.5 million next year.”

County Councillor Mohammed Iqbal said “George and I supported the 1.75% increase proposed by the County Labour Group, which would have amounted to only 24p per week. That would have restored some of the cuts and put an extra £3 million into Adult Social Care and £2.5 million into the Children and Young People’s budget. These departments look after the most vulnerable sections of our communities who need to be supported by the rest of us.”

“The Conservative administration’s approach to this year’s budget shows them to be insensitive to the lives of ordinary people in these difficult economic times. I just hope the voters of Lancashire remember this when the General Election comes round.”

Friday 19 February 2010
Islamic Help to meet MP
The new owners of Brierfield Mills, the Birmingham based disaster relief charity, Islamic Help, are to meet local MP, Gordon Prentice.

The MP said: "I have received an approach from the charity’s advisers telling me that the trustees are disappointed with some of the news stories going around and that they would welcome a face-to-face meeting to explain their work and to tell me of their plans for Brierfield Mills."

"They believe such a meeting would, in their words, help clear away some of the confusion."

"I have told them I am more than happy to meet the trustees but, before such a meeting, I would need to be assured that all the money donated to the Pendle Boarding School for Girls project had been returned to the donors."

" I also feel a statement about the appeal for funds for the boarding school project should be posted on the charity's website. This appeal for money was for a purpose outside the charitable objects of Islamic Help."
Friday 12 February 2010
Labour storms to victory in Walverden
The Labour Party candidate, Abdul Aziz stormed to an impressive victory last night in the Nelson Town Council by-election held in Walverden ward.

Cllr Aziz gained the seat for Labour from the Liberal Democrats who were pushed into last place; something which is another example of the voters rejecting the Lib. Dems.

Cllr Aziz said “I am really honoured that the voters have put their trust in me to serve their interests on the Town Council. I shall try my best to help local residents”.

Leader of the Labour Party in Pendle, Cllr Mohammed Iqbal added “Despite a huge operation of forces led by their Parliamentary candidate, the voters in Walverden have given the Lib Dems a kick in the teeth at this election. They are a party on their way down in Pendle. I want to congratulate Abdul Aziz and his campaign team led by Julie Henderson who fought hard and won very well”.

Votes cast for each candidate: Labour 419, Conservatives 268, Lib Dem 252. Turnout 35%.

Friday 12 February 2010
MP impressed with Colne engineering investment
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice visited Regal Precision Engineering in Colne today (Friday 12th), to understand how local businesses are coping with the economic downturn.

Regal Precision Engineering has recently been awarded a £17,000 contribution towards a £42,000 software system upgrade from the Local Enterprise Grant Initiative (LEGI) funded by the department of Communities and Local Government. This is part of a major initiative to increase employment opportunities and help safeguard existing jobs. Pennine Lancashire has had £750,000 in funding during 2009/10, using the local authorities as the link to local employers.

Gordon Prentice commented, “The LEGI grant will enable Regal Precision Engineering to upgrade their core software system that controls the operation of the machine tools. The upgrade will provide a better interface with the production data, supporting financial and production efficiency. This will enable the business to continue competing for orders well into the future.”

“ It is vital to safeguard local jobs and provide essential capital for local companies during these difficult times. This initiative by the department of Communities and Local Government is just part of the raft of measures to safeguard jobs and help businesses survive the world economic downturn, following the 2008 banking collapse.”

The picture shows Gordon Prentice MP and Howard Nicholson, Managing Director of Regal Precision Engineering in the engineering plant.

Wednesday 10 February 2010
Pendle is not For Sale says MP
Local MP, Gordon Prentice, told the House of Commons this afternoon that "Pendle is not for sale".

Prentice asked the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, if he had visited the MP's website today which showed how the forthcoming election in Pendle was "being bought by a tax exile". The MP went on to warn that "Pendle is not for sale".

Brown condemned Conservatives for refusing to answer questions about Lord Ashcroft - who has been bankrolling the Conservative Party for years - and whether he is resident in the UK for tax purposes.

In branding the Conservatives as "evasive and obfuscatory" Brown was quoting the words of the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, who has ordered the release of information to the Pendle MP about Ashcroft's peerage.

Speaking afterwards, the Pendle MP said: "At some stage, the Conservatives will have to come clean about Ashcroft's tax status. He was turned down for a peerage in 1999 and then elevated the following year on the recommendation of the then Leader of the Conservative Party, William Hague. His peerage was granted on condition that he would take up UK residence and pay UK taxes."

"It is an insult to the voters to imagine they can be bought in this way. They expect the Conservatives to tell the truth about Michael Ashcroft. After all, he is their Party vice chairman."

Monday 08 February 2010
MP calls for new “Blue Light” ambulance protocol
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice has called for urgent action over ambulance performance figures released by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS). In a recent meeting with the Chief Executive of NHS East Lancashire, Steve Spoerry, the MP raised serious concerns over the continued poor performance of NWAS, particularly in the Pendle area.

Speaking from his Nelson office, the MP commented: “NHS guidelines set out that 75% of category A callouts – those for serious and life threatening should have a response time of 8 minutes. But in October last year the figure for Burnley, Hyndburn, Rossendale, Ribble Valley and Pendle was just 70%. NWAS also missed the performance target in East Lancs for less serious category B cases, which have a 19-minute response time.”

Statistics from the NWAS showing the response times for the postcodes BB8, BB9, BB10 and BB18 show major variations.

The MP went on: “The figures highlighted a significantly weak service in the Barnoldswick area, with only 60% of ambulances meeting the eight-minute target to reach their destination.”

“In the period April 09 to November 09, the percentage of ambulances hitting the 8 minute target plunged to 53% in May, 51% in June and 39% in October.”

“Figures for BB8 which covers Colne and an area stretching out to Trawden fared better but only one month exceeded the 8 minute target – June at 79%. The lowest was 62% in October.”

The MP added: “I know the Medical Directors of the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and the North West Ambulance Service are looking at how best to improve things. This may mean ambulances going to Burnley which currently go to Blackburn.”

Sunday 7 February 2010
MP blocks Islamic Help school plan
The dreams of a Birmingham based disaster relief charity, Islamic Help, of establishing a 5,000 place boarding school for Muslim girls at Brierfield Mills in Pendle have been shattered by the Charity Commission.

The charity watchdog has ruled that Islamic Help was operating outside its charitable objects in raising money for a school.

In a hard hitting decision the Charity Commission has ordered donations to be returned to those who had responded to the appeal for funds. People thinking about donating were told £500 would go towards student accommodation; £5,000 towards a classroom and £20,000 towards a computer lab.

Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, called in the Charity Commission, insisting Islamic Help was breaking charity law in asking for money for a purpose clearly outside its charitable objects.

Islamic Help bought Brierfield Mills, the Grade II listed former medical fabrics factory, in December 2009 for £1,020,000 plus VAT.

Sultan Niaz Ul Hassan, a trustee of Islamic Help and one of the new registered owners, told the Charity Commission than none of the money raised in the website appeal for funds for the Pendle Boarding School for Girls had been used for the purchase. Instead, the charity had secured a bank loan of £650,000 from Lloyds TSB and the balance apparently came from various pledges and backdated gift aid.

The Charity Commission is insisting that the £10,000 which Islamic Help says was raised in the fundraising appeal, must be returned to those who gave the money. Where this is not possible – because money was donated anonymously – it must go into a special pot and the approval of the Charity Commission must be given before it can be used for any another purpose.

The Charity Commission has also ordered Islamic Help to remove the appeal for funds for the Pendle School for Girls from its website.

Speaking from Barnoldswick earlier today, the MP said: “There was never any doubt in my mind that Islamic Help was operating on the wrong side of charity law. Fundraising for a huge school was way outside their charitable objects.”

“ Ghausia Girls’ School will not now be moving to Brierfield Mills and expanding to take 200 students “in the early stages” as some people were predicting.”

“ I am told Brierfield Mills will now be used as a warehouse for clothing collections and some parts could be leased at a commercial rent. There may be community facilities as well but, as always, I put aside the hype and I wait for the detailed plans.”

“ We have already had too much smoke and mirrors.”

The MP added: “I shall be raising this issue in Parliament. I want to see a full audit of the finances of Islamic Help. And I want the Charity Commission to maintain an oversight and supervisory role.”

“ I am also left wondering what kind of assurances were given by the charity to Lloyds TSB (57% privately owned) to secure the £650,000 loan.”

Saturday 6 February 2010
Gordon Prentice toasts the organisers of the 6th Pendle Beer Festival
The MP said, “It is a superb festival showcasing real ales from all around the country – and 9 from East Lancashire. Martyn Pashley, the festival organiser, and all the CAMRA (campaign for real ale) volunteers deserve a huge round of applause for all the work they’ve done. Cheers!

This year's "Down on the Farm" theme should appeal to all country folk, with beers from Black Sheep, Roosters and Goose Eye to name but a few of the amazing variety of brewers. Beers with names like Riggwelter, Pig's Ear, Flat Cap and Cheeky Pheasant will mingle with local greats Pendle Witch, Wainwright's and Golden Pippin. In total over 65 real ales and ciders will be available to sample, and judging by last years record crowd of over 2,300 visitors, people appreciate the care and attention CAMRA volunteers give to serving beer in tip top form.
Locals and visitors alike will be pleased to know Pendle Leisure Trust have made the Colne Muni Theatre available once again and they intend to ensure everyone who comes enjoys the event and supports the Pendleside Hospice fund Pendleside Hospice fund raising events we have planned. Last year saw Pendle Festival raise £3,880.

If you'd like more information, Martyn Pashley, Festival Organiser, on
Download the Festival Poster (JPEG 1MB)

Friday 05 February 2010
Pendle household waste recycling centre - temporary works
Development work is to be carried out at Pendle Waste Transfer Station on Regent Street, Colne.

The improvements include slightly extending the facility, roofing an external bay area and resurfacing work.

To ensure the safety of all site users, both the waste transfer station and the household waste recycling centre (HWRC) will be temporarily closed from Monday, 15th February 2010, for approximately three weeks.

The nearest alternative sites during the period of temporary closure are the Burnley HWRC at Grosvenor Street in Burnley and the Barnoldswick HWRC at West Close Road in Barnoldswick. Both sites are open seven days a week between the hours of 8am to 7pm.

To find out more about any of Lancashire County Council’s HWRCs, ring the Lancashire County Council Waste Helpline on 0845 0500 957 or find out more on-line at
Tuesday 02 February 2010
MP turns heat up on Ashcroft
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, last night told the House of Commons that Lord Ashcroft should “speak out and tell the truth” on whether he has been a UK resident for tax purposes since his elevation to the peerage in 2000 on the recommendation of the then leader of the Conservative Party, William Hague.

The MP told the Commons that the Information Commissioner had ruled that the Cabinet Office must give details of the undertaking Michael Ashcroft gave when he was being considered for a peerage and to whom it was given. He ordered that this information must be given to the Pendle MP within 35 days of his decision notice (issued on 28 January 2010).

Speaking afterwards, the MP said: “Lord Ashcroft has bankrolled the Conservative Party for years. He is also financing the money-no-object campaign in my Pendle constituency where we have seen a tsunami of newspapers, glossies and surveys for the past three years. All paid for by a tax exile.”

“I also want William Hague and David Cameron to ask Ashcroft directly whether he is and has been since 2000 a UK resident for tax purposes. After the Information Commissioner’s ruling it is no good saying these matters are for Ashcroft and the Revenue and Customs.”

Monday 25 January 2010
Car Scrappage Scheme Success
North West Regional Minister Phil Woolas has told local MP Gordon Prentice the that the Chancellor’s car scrappage scheme has been a success in the North West.

The region has had one of the highest take-up rates in the country, with nearly 30,000 North West orders for new vehicles under the scheme by the start of January - over five and a half thousand of them in Lancashire.

The MP said "I'm pleased to see that the scheme has been taken up by so many people, and I would urge people who are still keen on taking part to get their orders in as soon as possible, as time is running out.

"The scrappage scheme, which discounts the price of a new car by £2,000 if you trade-in a qualifying old one, has received an additional £100 million funding, but the current estimate is that it will end by 20th February 2010."

"Speaking to local car dealers I am told that up to 50% of all new car sales are cashing in on the scheme. This is good news for manufacturers, dealers and customers."

Monday 18 January 2010                                           
MP calls on Islamic Help to spell out its plans
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, today repeated his demand that the Birmingham based charity, Islamic Help, spell out its plans for Brierfield Mills.

He is also calling on the Charity Commission to report on their investigation into whether Islamic Help has been operating outside its charitable objects.

The MP’s Early Day Motion, which will appear on the Commons Order Paper tomorrow, is set out below.

Pendle Boarding School for Girls

This House notes the reported purchase of Brierfield Mills by the Birmingham based charity, Islamic Help, whose website invites donations to convert the seven acre former medical fabrics factory into the UK’s largest boarding school for Muslim girls; observes that £500 would go towards student accommodation; £5,000 towards a classroom and £20,000 towards a computer lab; notes that Islamic Help’s primary charitable object is the relief of financial hardship including hardship caused by famine, war or other disaster in any part of the world as the Trustees see fit; further notes that Afzal Anwar, a local lawyer whose firm was responsible for the conveyance, has sought to clarify the charity’s intentions saying there would be revisions to the original proposals and that the charity would look to create a sports centre alongside a commercial village housing start-up businesses; calls on the charity to spell out its precise intentions forthwith; believes that Islamic Help is operating outside its charitable objectives and urges the Charity Commission to take immediate action to return donations to those who contributed to the appeal expecting their money would help pay for a 5,000 place boarding school for Muslim girls.

Gordon Prentice MP,  Ann Cryer MP.
Monday 18 January 2009
Tory candidate listens to Labour - but still doesn’t get it.
Cloverhill Councillor and local trader Eileen Ansar has welcomed the news that Tory parliamentary candidate Andrew Stephenson is trying to make up for having his leaflets printed in Guildford while urging Pendle people to “shop local”.

Cllr Ansar said: “The blatant hypocrisy of his pre-Christmas leaflet shocked all of us who trade for a living in Pendle. It was reported on TV and in the national press and made many people ask if he is serious as a candidate.”

“Now Stephenson has had his latest leaflet printed in Dunnockshaw, near Burnley. It’s a lot closer than Guildford, but he still doesn’t get it. What is so wrong with the printing companies in Pendle? Or is he unclear about the constituency boundaries?”

Cllr Ansar continued: “To cap it all, the leaflet turns out to be just a re-hash of old photos, some from as far back as 2008, only fit for the recycling bin at a time when our waste collectors are struggling to cover their rounds.”

“And for him to talk about his hopes that Conservative changes to Pendle’s winter gritting will improve things, when our streets were in chaos for weeks, makes me wonder if he has lost his marbles.”
Saturday 16 January 2010
Shock for local residents
Shocked and bewildered residents living on Manchester Road awoke this morning to find Parking Wardens employed by Lancashire County Council issuing tickets to local residents who for the last 3 weeks have been forced to park on the main road due to treacherous conditions on steep side streets.

Local County Councillor Mohammed Iqbal was outside speaking to the wardens to apply common sense as despite some rain this morning; cars are still struggling to get up/down Burlington St, Summer St in particular.

Cllr Iqbal said “I am disgusted at this insensitive decision taken by Lancashire County Council when it is blatantly clear that car owners parked on the main road before the rain started overnight and have been parking sensibly for the last 3 weeks whilst the Tory run County Council refused to fill the grit bins despite my repeated requests. I have collected the tickets and will be handing them in to County Hall for the matter to be resolved on behalf of extremely angry residents”.
Wednesday 13 January 2010
Call to remove proposed school site from conservation area.
Whitefield Labour Councillor Asjad Mahmood has secured a debate by Councillors to remove the Former Water Board site on Every Street, Nelson which is the proposed site for a new primary school from the Conservation Area status.

Cllr Mahmood said “It is of vital importance to residents living in Whitefield that the new primary school is built on this site. It is currently an empty unused piece of land at the heart of the area. My proposal to the Chief Executive of Pendle Council to remove this land from Conservation area status will once again kick-start the multi million pound Primary School proposal. I call upon the Liberal administration to support my proposal for the better interest of local people”.

Wednesday 13 January 2010
Workplace Pensions for All
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, has welcomed details of the latest stage in the Government’s programme of pensions reform which will affect millions of people in work.

This week, regulations were laid before Parliament which will give many employees a workplace pension for the very first time.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Yvette Cooper, yesterday described this as the most radical change to workplace entitlements since the introduction of the National Minimum Wage.

All employers, regardless of size, will be joining employees in paying into a pension scheme, for the first time. It will happen through automatic enrolment, in stages from 2012 to 2016, with the largest businesses of over 120,000 employees paying into a pension scheme from October 2012. Small business will be given extra time to comply.

The Pendle MP commented: "The Government tells us that 14 million people get no contribution from their employer towards a pension and around 7 million people are not saving enough for their retirement. These reforms will allow people on low and moderate incomes to save for their retirement with a guaranteed contribution from their employer."
Wednesday 13 January 2010
Tory County Council to blame for Pendle residents broken limbs
Labour County Councillors Mohammed Iqbal and George Adam have seen at first hand the injuries being sustained by local residents due to the poor action on gritting by Tory County Councillor Keith Young.

Cllr Adam said “ The sheets of ice on pavements and roads across Nelson are extremely treacherous and I know of dozens of people who have fallen and broken limbs. It is deplorable that Cllr Young is refusing to acknowledge he has made a serious mistake over the gritting. He and his Tory colleagues in Pendle should be held to account over this fiasco”.

Cllr Iqbal added “ There is a meeting of Lancashire Local at Brierfield Community Centre next Wednesday at 6.30pm. I would urge as many residents to attend and tell the Tory Councillors how they have let the people down. I believe that the only way to solve this problem is for gritting to be controlled by Pendle Council , at least we can all work together to stop the broken limbs. I was at a funeral at Nelson cemetery earlier this week and there wasn’t a sign of the road being gritted. The staff are doing a sterling job but can only do so much with the resources given to them by the Tory leadership.
Tuesday 12 January 2010
MP's No to Barnoldswick Recycling Centre closure
Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, is saying no to the possible closure of the household waste recycling centre in Barnoldswick.

The proposal to close the centre is being considered by a Task Group of the County Council’s Sustainable Development Overview & Scrutiny Committee. The Committee decided last month to set up the Group “in the context of current and budgetary pressures”.

Speaking from Westminster the MP said “”Living in Barnoldswick I use the centre regularly and it is always busy. I deplore this proposal.”

“The whole point of recycling centres is that they should be local. Quite apart from the inconvenience for Barlick people having to traipse over to Colne to recycle their household items, there would be an environmental cost in all the journeys made which would defeat the object.”

“Looking at this particular option I fear that the main reason it has been put forward is the amount of one-off savings that would be made by the County Council by selling off sites. I am writing to the Committee to urge them to reject it.”

Wednesday 06 January 2010
Hoon and Hewitt "deluded"
Two former cabinet Ministers who are calling for a leadership election to clear the air are deluding themselves that a contest would help the Government’s fortunes says Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice.

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt say they want a ballot of MPs to settle, in their own words "once and for all", questions about Gordon Brown’s leadership.

Speaking from Westminster, the MP said: "The reasons advanced by Geoff Hoon and Particia Hewitt seem to me to be complete baloney. This is more about sour grapes and thwarted ambition."

"There will be a lot of flapping of wings but this bird won’t fly."

"Brown, for all his reported faults, has a grasp of economics and a world view that Cameron cannot begin to match."

The Pendle MP was one of the few Labour MPs not to nominate Brown for the leadership of the Labour Party when Tony Blair stood down in 2007 saying he wanted a contest. Brown was elected leader unopposed. At the time the MP said the Party’s rules were far too restrictive, requiring nominations from over 40 MPs just to get a candidate’s name on the ballot paper.

Wednesday 06 January 2010
Gritting Shortages
Local MP Gordon Prentice is calling on the Conservative controlled Lancashire County Council to explain what has gone wrong with the gritting operation in Pendle.

The MP said “Before Christmas Councillor Keith Young, LCC Cabinet member responsible for Highways, was saying how well prepared the County was for the winter. Yet scarcely two weeks later we are told salt supplies are scarce and only main roads can be kept open. As a result my office has had an increasing number of emails and calls about secondary roads.”

“I understand 40 more grit bins were installed in the Borough following a review last year, but they aren’t much use if they can’t be filled. And a promise to spread salt at a minimum of 40 grams per square metre has had to be scaled back.”

“Councillors all across the borough from Barnoldswick to Brierfield.have been crying out for action on the side streets in their wards, in particular near doctors’surgeries and old people’s homes. But I note a deafening silence from Conservative County Councillors and parliamentary candidate Andrew Stephenson on the issue. It would be helpful to know what representations they have made to Cllr Young, whose pronouncements have bordered on the complacent.”

"Why on earth can't responsibility for gritting local roads be returned to Pendle Council? A lot of people would welcome such a move."

Tuesday 05 January 2010
Burnley Urgent Care review begins
The review of Burnley General Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre gets under way this month and will be completed by 30 March when the report will be published. It will be led by Professor Matthew Cooke, the National Director for Emergency and Urgent Care and Dr Irving Cobden, Medical Director at Cumbria Primary Care Trust.

The review was promised by the Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, after meeting Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice on 9 November. It will be undertaken by the NHS North West Strategic Health Authority (SHA).

The MP has consistently pressed for an independent clinical review of the decision to downgrade Burnley’s A&E Department and centralise emergency care in Blackburn. But this is not on offer.

In his letter to the Pendle MP setting out the review’s terms of reference Burnham says the SHA will look at the functioning of the urgent care centre at Burnley to see whether it is delivering what was expected of it when the big hospital changes were implemented in November 2007.

The SHA has told Burnham: “The transfer of emergency services to Blackburn is unpopular in Burnley and Pendle, and similarly with regard to the maternity services transfer to Burnley, where concerns have been raised by women from Blackburn who find their care move. Local councils and MPs have also voiced concern about the proposals and local MPs remain concerned about the ability of (the) local A&E department to cope with the demand caused by the closure of Burnley A&E.”

Pendle MP, Gordon Prentice, commented: “Some people will say this review is a complete whitewash and will have nothing to do with it. Others, and I include myself here, recognise it is a second best but will nevertheless take the opportunity to highlight the failings of the current set-up and push for reinstatement of A&E at Burnley.”

“I have made it clear all along that blue light Accident and Emergency could return to Burnley if accompanied by a publicly available protocol stating which conditions could be treated there and which would have to go elsewhere. This is a straightforward and workable solution which is crying out to be considered properly. It should not be dismissed as eccentric.”

The MP continued: “On the positive side, I welcome the fact the report of the review panel will be published. We are told that “relevant” staff and patient groups will have the opportunity to contribute as well as local and national politicians. I have concerns about the meaning of the word “relevant” in this context and also whether any information will be withheld.”

The MP added: “The Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has said on the record that he believes there is no reason why Burnley should not have its A&E back. In the light of this, I hope he will give evidence.”

“I am writing to Andrew Lansley urging him to meet the review panel to explain his thinking.”

“I also hope the Liberal Democrats will participate. I know that my own colleagues in the Labour Party, such as my friend Peter Pike who has battled for years against the over centralisation at Blackburn, will make their voices heard.”

“Now is the time for people to speak out."
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